Optimizing GRACE/GRACE-FO data and a priori hydrological knowledge for improved global terrestial water storage component estimates

Natthachet Tangdamrongsub*, Cheinway Hwang, Jordan S. Borak, Saowanit Prabnakorn, Jiancheng Han

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The comprehensive information of global terrestrial water storage (TWS) components (soil moisture, groundwater, snow, surface water) is essential for effective assessment of water resource availability, climate variation, and disaster mitigation measures. Observational data provided by the Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment (GRACE) and GRACE Follow-On satellite missions offer global TWS variation (ΔTWS) in terms of an integrated water column. However, GRACE spatial resolution is relatively coarse (i.e., 3°), and the vertically integrated value cannot be separated into ΔTWS components directly. This study demonstrates the feasibility to estimate ΔTWS components at any desired spatial-vertical resolution by effectively maintaining the native resolution of the employed hydrological knowledge. It utilizes a least-squares with constraints (LSC) approach to rigorously incorporate GRACE and GRACE-FO data and a priori hydrological knowledge, with the aim to improve global ΔTWS components’ accuracy and spatial resolution. The 3°×3° GRACE mascon derived ΔTWS data is disaggregated into the 0.5°×0.5° anomalous soil moisture storage (ΔSMS), groundwater storage (ΔGWS), snow water equivalent (ΔSWE), and surface water storage (ΔSWS) based on the covariance information obtained from the Community Atmosphere Biosphere Land Exchange (CABLE) and the PCRaster Global Water Balance (PCR-GLOBWB) models. Evaluation with different ground measurements and satellite products between 2002 and 2019 exhibits significantly improved accuracy in all individual ΔTWS components. This improvement is of particular note in ΔGWS and ΔSWS, where the LSC approach increases the globally averaged correlation values by approximately 0.13 and 0.05, respectively. Reliable prior knowledge leads to a more accurate ΔTWS component estimate, and the use of ensemble-mean knowledge yields the best result.

Original languageEnglish
Article number126463
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Hydrology
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • A priori hydrological knowledge
  • Least-squares with constraints
  • Spatial resolution
  • TWS component


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