Assessing uncertainties of water footprints using an ensemble of crop growth models on winter wheat

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Water (Switzerland), 2016, 8 (12)
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
© 2016 by the authors. Crop productivity and water consumption form the basis to calculate the water footprint (WF) of a specific crop. Under current climate conditions, calculated evapotranspiration is related to observed crop yields to calculate WF. The assessment of WF under future climate conditions requires the simulation of crop yields adding further uncertainty. To assess the uncertainty of model based assessments of WF, an ensemble of crop models was applied to data from five field experiments across Europe. Only limited data were provided for a rough calibration, which corresponds to a typical situation for regional assessments, where data availability is limited. Up to eight models were applied for wheat. The coefficient of variation for the simulated actual evapotranspiration between models was in the range of 13%-19%, which was higher than the inter-annual variability. Simulated yields showed a higher variability between models in the range of 17%-39%. Models responded differently to elevated CO2 in a FACE (Free-Air Carbon Dioxide Enrichment) experiment, especially regarding the reduction of water consumption. The variability of calculated WF between models was in the range of 15%-49%. Yield predictions contributed more to this variance than the estimation of water consumption. Transpiration accounts on average for 51%-68% of the total actual evapotranspiration.
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