Monitoring Changes in Continental Water Storage with GRACE

  • Sean Swenson
  • John Wahr
Part of the Space Sciences Series of ISSI book series (SSSI, volume 17)


The Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, GRACE, will enable the recovery of monthly estimates of changes in water storage, on land and in the ocean, avenged over arbitrary regions having length scales of a few hundred km and larger. These data will allow the examination of changes in the distribution of water in the ocean, in snow and ice on polar ice sheets, and in coniinental waler and snow storage. Extracting changes in waler storage from the GRACE dataset requires the use of averaging kernels which can isolate a particular region. To estimate the accuracy to which continental water storage changes in a few representative regions may be recovered, we construct a synthetic GRACE dataset from global, gridded models of surface-mass variability. We find that regional changes in water storage can be recovered with rms error less than 1 cm of equivalent water thickness, for regions having areas of 4 × l05 km2 and larger. Signals in smaller regions may also be recovered; however, interpretations of such results require a careful consideration of model resolution, as well as the nature of the averaging kernel.


Average Kernel Mississippi River Basin Equivalent Water Thickness Grace Data Snow Storage 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sean Swenson
    • 1
  • John Wahr
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Physics and Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental SciencesUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA

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