U.S. Department of Energy

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Regional Water

Sub-basin Community Land Model

PRIMA simulates regional water supply by coupling the Regional Earth System Model to a distributed extension to the Community Land Model called SCLM. Unlike the “default” version of CLM, SCLM uses sub-basins (or watersheds) as the computational units with a typical spatial scale of a few tens of kilometers. Because these units follow the natural boundaries to water flow defined by topography, SCLM eliminates the need to include artificial lateral fluxes of water across the landscape and yields a more accurate and detailed representation of regional water supplies.

Model for Scale-Adaptive River Transport

To simulate river and stream flows, PRIMA uses a new river routing model known as the Model for Scale-Adaptive River Transport, or MOSART. MOSART is a highly scalable, physically based model that employs a hierarchical-dominant river tracing method to construct river networks, the kinematic wave method to simulate hillslope and subnetwork river routing, and a variable storage method for channel routing. MOSART has been demonstrated to have higher skill that other river routing models across a range of resolutions and provides a framework that allows human influence, such as dams and reservoirs and in-channel biogeochemistry processes, to be more easily incorporated.

Water Management

A new water management model, called WM, also has been developed for PRIMA. WM uses generic reservoir operating rules and includes modules for extraction of water at the reservoir, as well as local surface water extraction. Water demand is distributed across reservoirs based on elevation constraints and a distance-based buffer. The WM model has been coupled with MOSART and currently is being tested over the Columbia River Basin.

POCs: L. Ruby Leung and Maoyi Huang


Voisin N, L Liu, M Hejazi, T Tesfa, H Li, M Huang, Y Liu, and LR Leung. 2013. “One-way coupling of an integrated assessment model and a water resources model: evaluation and implications of future changes over the US Midwest.” Hydrology and Earth System Sciences 17(11):4555-4575. DOI: 10.5194/hess-17-4555-2013.

Voisin N, H Li, D Ward, M Huang, M Wigmosta, and LR Leung. 2013. “On an improved sub-regional water resources management representation for integration into earth system models.” Hydrology and Earth System Sciences 17(9):3605-3622. DOI: 10.5194/hess-17-3605-2013.

Li H, H Wu, M Huang, and LR Leung. 2012. “Representing Natural and Manmade Drainage Systems in an Earth System Modeling Framework.” Irrigation & Drainage Systems Engineering 1:e107. DOI: 10.4172/2168-9768.1000e107.


One of the unique capabilities of the PRIMA framework is its ability to assess regional water supply and demand in an integrated, dynamic context that accounts for contemporaneous changes in other human and natural systems. This capability is underpinned by several component models and modules.

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