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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-2019-25
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-2019-25
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 13 Feb 2019

Research article | 13 Feb 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Earth System Science Data (ESSD).

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

Vincent Humphrey1,2 and Lukas Gudmundsson1 Vincent Humphrey and Lukas Gudmundsson
  • 1Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
  • 2Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA

Abstract. 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 mission (GRACE) 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, etc.) 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 6 reconstructed TWS datasets of 100 ensemble members each. Possible user groups and applications include hydrological modelling 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 the GRACE Follow-On mission. The presented dataset is publicly available (https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.7670849) and updates will be published regularly.

Vincent Humphrey and Lukas Gudmundsson
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Vincent Humphrey and Lukas Gudmundsson
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GRACE-REC: A reconstruction of climate-driven water storage changes over the last century V. Humphrey and L. Gudmundsson https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.7670849

Vincent Humphrey and Lukas Gudmundsson
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Short summary
Because changes in freshwater availability can impact many natural ecosystems and human activities, it is crucial to better understand long-term changes in the water cycle. This dataset is a reconstruction of past changes in land water storage over the last century, obtained by combining satellite observations with historical weather data. It can be used to investigate both regional changes in freshwater availability or drought frequency, and long-term changes of the global water cycle.
Because changes in freshwater availability can impact many natural ecosystems and human...
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