Journal of Geodesy

, Volume 87, Issue 3, pp 287–299 | Cite as

Inter-annual water mass variations from GRACE in central Siberia

  • Sibylle VeyEmail author
  • Holger Steffen
  • Jürgen Müller
  • Julia Boike


Our study analyses satellite and land-based observations of the Yakutsk region centred at the Lena watershed, an area characterised mainly by continuous permafrost. Using monthly solutions of the Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment satellite mission, we detect a mass increase over central Siberia from 2002 to 2007 which reverses into a mass decrease between 2007 and 2011. No significant mass trend is visible for the whole observation period. To further quantify this behaviour, different mass signal components are studied in detail: (1) inter-annual variation in the atmospheric mass, (2) a possible effect of glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA), and (3) hydrological mass variations. In standard processing the atmospheric mass signal is reduced based on the data from numerical weather prediction models. We use surface pressure observations in order to validate this atmospheric reduction. On inter-annual time scale the difference between the atmospheric mass signal from model prediction and from surface pressure observation is \(<\)4 mm in equivalent water height. The effect of GIA on the mass signal over Siberia is calculated using a global ice model and a spherically symmetric, compressible, Maxwell-viscoelastic earth model. The calculation shows that for the investigated area any effect of GIA can be ruled out. Hence, the main part of the signal can be attributed to hydrological mass variations. We briefly discuss potential hydrological effects such as changes in precipitation, river discharge, surface and subsurface water storage.


GRACE Permafrost Mass transport  Earth’s system Hydrology 



This paper benefited from excellent reviews by three anonymous reviewers, additional comments by editors Roland Klees and Jürgen Kusche, and thorough proof reading by Christopher Farrow, University of Calgary. We thank Yoshihiro Iijima, Research Institute for Global Change Yokosuka, Japan and Alexander N. Fedorov, Melnikov Permafrost Institute Yakutsk, Russia for providing us the soil moisture data. Many thanks go to Kurt Lambeck for discussion and providing the RSES ice model and Georg Kaufmann for providing the modelling software ICEAGE (Kaufmann 2004). We are grateful to Majid Naeimi, Excellence Cluster QUEST, Hannover for his support in the GRACE data analysis. Our thanks go to Günter (Molo) Stoof for supporting the climate data acquisition. We thank the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for making meteorological observations via its website ( available to us.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sibylle Vey
    • 1
    Email author
  • Holger Steffen
    • 2
  • Jürgen Müller
    • 1
  • Julia Boike
    • 3
  1. 1.Institut of GeodesyLeibniz Universität HannoverHannoverGermany
  2. 2.Lantmäteriet, Lantmäterigatan 2cGävleSweden
  3. 3.Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine ResearchPotsdamGermany

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