Benchmarking multimodel terrestrial water storage seasonal cycle against Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) observations over major global river basins

Citation:
Bibi, S., T. Zhu, A. Rateb, B. R. Scanlon, M. A. Kamran, A. El Nashar, A. Bennour, and C. Li, "Benchmarking multimodel terrestrial water storage seasonal cycle against Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) observations over major global river basins", Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, vol. 28, issue 7, pp. 1725-1750, 2024.

Abstract:

The increasing reliance on global models for evaluating climate- and human-induced impacts on the hydrological cycle underscores the importance of assessing the models' reliability. Hydrological models provide valuable data on ungauged river basins or basins with limited gauge networks. The objective of this study was to evaluate the reliability of 13 global models using the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite's total water storage (TWS) seasonal cycle for 29 river basins in different climate zones. Results show that the simulated seasonal total water storage change (TWSC) does not compare well with GRACE even in basins within the same climate zone. The models overestimated the seasonal peak in most boreal basins and underestimated it in tropical, arid, and temperate zones. In cold basins, the modeled phase of TWSC precedes that of GRACE by up to 2–3 months. However, it lagged behind that of GRACE by 1 month over temperate and arid to semi-arid basins. The phase agreement between GRACE and the models was good in the tropical zone. In some basins with major underlying aquifers, those models that incorporate groundwater simulations provide a better representation of the water storage dynamics. With the findings and analysis of our study, we concluded that R2 (Water Resource Reanalysis tier 2 forced with Multi-Source Weighted Ensemble Precipitation (MSWEP) dataset) models with optimized parameterizations have a better correlation with GRACE than the reverse scenario (R1 models are Water Resource Reanalysis tier 1 and tier 2 forced with the ERA-Interim (WFDEI) meteorological reanalysis dataset). This signifies an enhancement in the predictive capability of models regarding the variability of TWSC. The seasonal peak, amplitude, and phase difference analyses in this study provide new insights into the future improvement of large-scale hydrological models and TWS investigations.

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