Journal of Geodesy

, Volume 93, Issue 10, pp 2145–2153 | Cite as

Evidence of daily hydrological loading in GPS time series over Europe

  • Anne SpringerEmail author
  • Makan A. Karegar
  • Jürgen Kusche
  • Jessica Keune
  • Wolfgang Kurtz
  • Stefan Kollet
Short Note


Loading deformations from atmospheric, oceanic, and hydrological mass changes mask geophysical processes such as land subsidence and tectonic or volcanic deformation. While it is known that hydrological loading plays a role at seasonal time scales, here we demonstrate evidence that also fast water storage changes contribute to daily Global Positioning System (GPS) height time series. So far, no clear strategy, i.e., no single conventional hydrological model, has been proposed for removing hydrological deformation from daily GPS height time series. Hydrological model predictions of total water storage anomalies tend to diverge and (substantially) deviate from Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) observations, which however have a limited spatial and temporal resolution. Here, we suggest to overcome these limitations by assimilating GRACE data into a high-resolution (12.5 km) hydrological model. We tested this approach over Europe, and we found that accounting for daily hydrological mass changes reduces the root mean square scatter of GPS height time series almost by a factor of two when compared to monthly hydrological mass changes. We suggest that a GRACE-assimilating hydrological model would provide a promising option for removing hydrology-induced vertical deformation from GPS time series also at the global scale.


GPS Vertical deformation Hydrogeodesy GRACE Assimilation 



We thank Matt King and three anonymous reviewers, whose thoughtful comments improved the manuscript. GRACE solutions were obtained from the ITSG ( The GPS time series are available in SINEX format through the EPN website (

Author Contributions

Anne Springer performed the assimilation of GRACE data into CLM3.5 to produce the high-resolution total water storage reanalysis over Europe and wrote the manuscript. Makan Karegar analyzed the GPS time series, modeled the deformation and helped write the manuscript. Jürgen Kusche contributed to the interpretation of the results and helped improve the manuscript. Jessica Keune and Stefan Kollet performed the initial setup of the CLM3.5 model over Europe. Wolfgang Kurtz set up the interface between CLM3.5 and the parallel data assimilation framework (PDAF).

Supplementary material

190_2019_1295_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (1.3 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (pdf 1282 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Geodesy and GeoinformationBonn UniversityBonnGermany
  2. 2.Department of EnvironmentGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  3. 3.Environmental Computing GroupLeibniz Supercomputing CentreGarching bei MünchenGermany
  4. 4.Institute of Bio-Geosciences (IBG-3, Agrosphere)Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbHJülichGermany
  5. 5.Centre for High-Performance Scientific Computing Geoverbund ABC/JJülichGermany

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