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Other research product . 2019

GRACE-REC: a reconstruction of climate-driven water storage changes over the last century

Humphrey, Vincent; Gudmundsson, Lukas;
Open Access
Published: 02 Aug 2019
The amount of water stored on continents is an important constraint for water mass and energy exchanges in the Earth system and exhibits large inter-annual variability at both local and continental scales. From 2002 to 2017, the satellites of the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) mission have observed changes in terrestrial water storage (TWS) with an unprecedented level of accuracy. In this paper, we use a statistical model trained with GRACE observations to reconstruct past climate-driven changes in TWS from historical and near-real-time meteorological datasets at daily and monthly scales. Unlike most hydrological models which represent water reservoirs individually (e.g., snow, soil moisture) and usually provide a single model run, the presented approach directly reconstructs total TWS changes and includes hundreds of ensemble members which can be used to quantify predictive uncertainty. We compare these data-driven TWS estimates with other independent evaluation datasets such as the sea level budget, large-scale water balance from atmospheric reanalysis, and in situ streamflow measurements. We find that the presented approach performs overall as well or better than a set of state-of-the-art global hydrological models (Water Resources Reanalysis version 2). We provide reconstructed TWS anomalies at a spatial resolution of 0.5∘, at both daily and monthly scales over the period 1901 to present, based on two different GRACE products and three different meteorological forcing datasets, resulting in six reconstructed TWS datasets of 100 ensemble members each. Possible user groups and applications include hydrological modeling and model benchmarking, sea level budget studies, assessments of long-term changes in the frequency of droughts, the analysis of climate signals in geodetic time series, and the interpretation of the data gap between the GRACE and GRACE Follow-On missions. The presented dataset is published at (Humphrey and Gudmundsson, 2019) and updates will be published regularly.
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Funded by
SNSF| Water-Carbon interactions in the Earth system
  • Funder: Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)
  • Project Code: P400P2_180784
  • Funding stream: Careers;Fellowships | Postdoc.Mobility
Land-Climate Interactions: Constraints for Droughts and Heatwaves in a Changing Climate
  • Funder: European Commission (EC)
  • Project Code: 617518
  • Funding stream: FP7 | SP2 | ERC