• Budyko;
  • water-energy partition;
  • hydrology


[1] Quantifying partitioning of precipitation into evapotranspiration (ET) and runoff is the key to assessing water availability globally. Here we develop a universal model to predict water-energy partitioning (ϖ parameter for the Fu's equation, one form of the Budyko framework) which spans small to large scale basins globally. A neural network (NN) model was developed using a data set of 224 small U.S. basins (100–10,000 km2) and 32 large, global basins (~230,000–600,000 km2) independently and combined based on both local (slope, normalized difference vegetation index) and global (geolocation) factors. The Budyko framework with NN estimated ϖ reproduced observed mean annual ET well for the combined 256 basins. The predicted mean annual ET for ~36,600 global basins is in good agreement (R2 = 0.72) with an independent global satellite-based ET product, inversely validating the NN model. The NN model enhances the capability of the Budyko framework for assessing water availability at global scales using readily available data.