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Earth System Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2019-43
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2019-43
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  09 Sep 2019

09 Sep 2019

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A revised version of this preprint was accepted for the journal ESD and is expected to appear here in due course.

Groundwater storage dynamics in the world's large aquifer systems from GRACE: uncertainty and role of extreme precipitation

Mohammad Shamsudduha1,2 and Richard G. Taylor1 Mohammad Shamsudduha and Richard G. Taylor
  • 1Department of Geography, University College London, London, UK
  • 2Department of Geography, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton, UK

Abstract. Under variable and changing climates groundwater storage sustains vital ecosystems and enables freshwater withdrawals globally for agriculture, drinking-water, and industry. Here, we assess recent changes in groundwater storage (ΔGWS) from 2002 to 2016 in 37 of the world's large aquifer systems using an ensemble of datasets from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) and Land Surface Models (LSMs). Ensemble GRACE-derived ΔGWS is well reconciled to in-situ observations (r = 0.62–0.86, p value < 0.001) for two tropical basins with regional piezometric networks and contrasting climate regimes. Trends in GRACE-derived ΔGWS are overwhelmingly non-linear; indeed linear declining trends adequately (R2 > 0.5, p value < 0.001) explain variability in only two aquifer systems. Non-linearity in ΔGWS at the scale of GRACE (~ 200,000 km2) derives, in part, from the episodic nature of groundwater replenishment associated with extreme annual (> 90th percentile, 1901–2016) precipitation and is inconsistent with prevailing narratives of global-scale groundwater depletion. Substantial uncertainty remains in estimates of GRACE-derived ΔGWS, evident from 20 realisations presented here, but these data provide a regional context to changes in groundwater storage observed more locally through piezometry.

Mohammad Shamsudduha and Richard G. Taylor

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Interactive discussion

Status: closed
Status: closed
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
Printer-friendly Version - Printer-friendly version Supplement - Supplement

Mohammad Shamsudduha and Richard G. Taylor

Mohammad Shamsudduha and Richard G. Taylor

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Short summary
Recent assessments of the sustainability of global groundwater resources using the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites assume that the underlying trends are linear. Here, we assess recent changes in groundwater storage (ΔGWS) in the world's large aquifer systems using an ensemble of GRACE datasets and show that trends are mostly non-linear. Non-linearity in ΔGWS derives, in part, from the episodic nature of groundwater replenishment associated with extreme precipitation.
Recent assessments of the sustainability of global groundwater resources using the Gravity...
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