Re-assessing global water storage trends from GRACE time series

August 3, 2021 / Nico Sneeuw

The journal Environmental Research Letters has published joint research between the School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol, and the Institute of Geodesy, University of Stuttgart, that reassesses GRACE trends. By looking at GRACE trends of water storage over river catchments relative to the natural long-term variation in the catchment's behaviour, the authors arrived at a complementary trend analysis.
[Picture: Environ. Res. Lett.]

With its 15-year mission duration, the satellite mission GRACE provided a time series of time-variable global mass redistribution that allows to identify regions experiencing long-term changes in their water resources. The common indicator for water stress is the linear trend in ground-water storage. In this contribution, the authors around Bramha Dutt Vishwakarma argue that trends in storage behaviour should be assessed against the non-seasonal natural variability in river catchments. Small trends may be highly relevant for river systems with low natural variability, e.g. in semi-arid areas, whereas, on the opposite, large trends may "drown" in the natural variability, e.g. in case of large tropical river systems. As such this publication provides a more differentiated view on the long-term storage characteristics of river catchments. 

DownscaledGRACEEnviron. Res. Lett. 16 034005/ B.D. Vishwakarma / Figure 4 (CC BY 4.0)


BD Vishwakarma, P Bates, N Sneeuw, RM Westaway and JL Bamber, 2021 Environ. Res. Lett. 16 034005

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