Surveys in Geophysics

, Volume 29, Issue 4–5, pp 361–374 | Cite as

Detection of Continental Hydrology and Glaciology Signals from GRACE: A Review

  • G. Ramillien
  • J. S. Famiglietti
  • J. Wahr
Original Paper


Since its launch in March 2002, the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) has provided a global mapping of the time-variations of the Earth’s gravity field. Tiny variations of gravity from monthly to decadal time scales are mainly due to redistributions of water mass inside the surface fluid envelops of our planet (i.e., atmosphere, ocean and water storage on continents). In this article, we present a review of the major contributions of GRACE satellite gravimetry in global and regional hydrology. To date, many studies have focused on the ability of GRACE to detect, for the very first time, the time-variations of continental water storage (including surface waters, soil moisture, groundwater, as well as snow pack at high latitudes) at the unprecedented resolution of ~400–500 km. As no global complete network of surface hydrological observations exists, the advances of satellite gravimetry to monitor terrestrial water storage are significant and unique for determining changes in total water storage and water balance closure at regional and continental scales.


Global hydrology GRACE satellite gravimetry Water mass balances 



We thank two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions that enabled the improvement of the manuscript. This work was supported in part by the NNG04GE99G and JPL-REASON1259524 grants.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.LEGOS, UMR5566 CNRS/CNES/IRDToulouseFrance
  2. 2.Earth System ScienceUniversity of CaliforniaIrvineUSA
  3. 3.Department of Physics, CIRESUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA

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