GEB v0.1: a large-scale agent-based socio-hydrological model - simulating 10 million individual farming households in a fully distributed hydrological model

Jens A. De Bruijn, Mikhail Smilovic, Peter Burek, Luca Guillaumot, Yoshihide Wada, Jeroen C.J.H. Aerts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Humans play a large role in the hydrological system, e.g. by extracting large amounts of water for irrigation, often resulting in water stress and ecosystem degradation. By implementing large-scale adaptation measures, such as the construction of irrigation reservoirs, water stress and ecosystem degradation can be reduced. Yet we know that many decisions, such as the adoption of more effective irrigation techniques or changing crop types, are made at the farm level by a heterogeneous farmer population. While these decisions are usually advantageous for an individual farmer or their community, aggregate effects of those decisions can have large effects downstream. Similarly, decisions made by other stakeholders, such as governments, often have basin-wide effects and affect each farmer differently. To fully comprehend how the human-natural water system evolves over time and space and to explore which interventions are suitable to reduce water stress, it is important to consider human behaviour and feedbacks to the hydrological system simultaneously at the local household and large basin scales. Therefore, we present the Geographical, Environmental, and Behavioural (GEB) model, a coupled agent-based hydrological model that simulates the behaviour and daily bidirectional interaction of more than 10 million individual farm households with the hydrological system on a personal laptop. Farmers exhibit autonomous heterogeneous behaviour based on their characteristics, assets, environment, management policies, and social network. Examples of behaviour are irrigation, generation of income from selling crops, and investment in adaptation measures. Meanwhile, reservoir operators manage the amount of water available for irrigation and river discharge. All actions can be taken at a daily time step and influence the hydrological system directly or indirectly. GEB is dynamically linked with the spatially distributed grid-based hydrological model CWatM at 30′′ resolution (< 1 km at the Equator). Because many smallholder farm fields are much smaller than 1 × 1 km, CWatM was specifically adapted to implement dynamically sized hydrological response units (HRUs) at the farm level, providing each agent with an independently operated hydrological environment. While the model could be applied anywhere globally at both large and small scales, we explore its implementation in the heavily managed Krishna basin in India, which encompasses ~8 % of India's land area and ~12.1 million farmers.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2437-2454
Number of pages18
JournalGeoscientific Model Development
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 1 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Generated from Scopus record by KAUST IRTS on 2023-09-18


Dive into the research topics of 'GEB v0.1: a large-scale agent-based socio-hydrological model - simulating 10 million individual farming households in a fully distributed hydrological model'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this