SPHY: Spatial Processes in Hydrology model

…suitable for a wide range of water resource management applications

About SPHY

The SPHY model (short for Spatial Processes in Hydrology) leverages components from well tested simulation models like HydroS, SWAT, PCR-GLOBWB, SWAP, and HimSim, to simulate terrestrial hydrology at varying scales, land use and climatic conditions. Operating on a cell-by-cell basis, SPHY is a spatially distributed leaky bucket type water balance model. It is written in Python and uses the PCRaster dynamic modelling framework. To reduce the number of input parameters, level of complexity and model run times, it does not include energy balance calculations.

Developed by FutureWater, with the support of national and international partners, SPHY has emerged as a robust, user-friendly tool for undertaking operational and strategic water resource management decisions.  It stands out for its physical consistency, enabling detailed assessments of hydrological storage and flux changes over space and time.


Climate Change Assessment

SPHY quantifies the future impacts of climate change on water resources and helps to evaluate the effectiveness of adaptation strategies in a precise, sector-specific manner across different spatial and temporal scales. 

Hydropower Evaluation

From assessing long-term projections of water availability, scoping regional and local hydropower potential to enabling forecasting services for operational reservoir inflow, SPHY has proven its usefulness for exploring hydropower potential. 

Water Allocation and Planning

SPHY’s ability to forecast various hydrological flows under different climate scenarios provides evidence for improved water resources allocation and planning. In many countries, SPHY has also been coupled with WEAP to assess water availability and manage supply-demand gaps across different sectors in an equitable and sustainable manner.

Operational Services

The SPHY model contributes to a wide array of decision support systems with its operational services. These include stream flow forecasting for hydropower production, and soil water content and groundwater level predictions for irrigation guidance. SPHY is also capable of assimilating data from remote sensing, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and in-situ sensors.  


Irrigation Management 

SPHY serves as a valuable tool in precision irrigation management. It has been used to provide field-specific irrigation advice for different types of crops and has also been used to evaluate the irrigation potential at larger scales.

Snow and Glacier-fed River Basins

With its ability to quantify the impacts of climate change on glacier and snow melt contributions, SPHY has been instrumental in forecasting flow regime changes and assessing water availability for energy, agriculture and other sectors in snow and glacier-fed river basins. Moreover, given its versatility, SPHY seamlessly integrates with various other hydrological models such as WEAP, SWAT and MIKE Basin. 

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What is FutureWater?

FutureWater is a research and consulting organization that works throughout the world to combine scientific research with practical solutions for water management. FutureWater works at both global, national and local levels with partners on projects addressing water for food, irrigation, water excess, water shortage, climate change, and river basin management.

FutureWater has offices in Wageningen (The Netherlands) and in Cartagena (Spain).

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