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Enhancing the Water Accounting and Vulnerability Evaluation Model: WAVE+

Berger, Markus; Eisner, Stephanie; van der Ent, Ruud; Flörke, Martina; Link, Andreas; Poligkeit, Joseph; Bach, Vanessa; Finkbeiner, Matthias

Due to the increasing relevance of analyzing water consumption along product life cycles, the water accounting and vulnerability evaluation model (WAVE) has been updated and methodologically enhanced. Recent data from the atmospheric moisture tracking model WAM2-layers is used to update the basin internal evaporation recycling (BIER) ratio, which denotes atmospheric moisture recycling within drainage basins. Potential local impacts resulting from water consumption are quantified by means of the water deprivation index (WDI). Based on the hydrological model WaterGAP3, WDI is updated and methodologically refined to express a basin’s vulnerability to freshwater deprivation resulting from the relative scarcity and absolute shortage of water. Compared to the predecessor version, BIER and WDI are provided on an increased spatial and temporal (monthly) resolution. Differences compared to annual averages are relevant in semiarid and arid basins characterized by a high seasonal variation of water consumption and availability. In order to support applicability in water footprinting and life cycle assessment, BIER and WDI are combined to an integrated WAVE+ factor, which is provided on different temporal and spatial resolutions. The applicability of the WAVE+ method is proven in a case study on sugar cane, and results are compared to those obtained by other impact assessment methods.
Published in: Environmental Science & Technology, 10.1021/acs.est.7b05164, American Chemical Society (ACS)