Monitoring Changes in Continental Water Storage with GRACE

Edited: 2011-02-21
TitleMonitoring Changes in Continental Water Storage with GRACE
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2003
AuthorsSwenson, S., and J. M. Wahr
JournalSpace Science Reviews
Date Published07/2003
Keywordsclimate, grace, ice
AbstractThe Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, GRACE , will enable the recovery of monthly estimates of changes in water storage, on land and in the ocean, averaged 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 continental water and snow storage. Extracting changes in water 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 × 105 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.