Related Research Areas
Water & Energy Cycles

Ninety-six percent of Earth’s unfrozen fresh water resides in aquifers, hence groundwater storage is a dominant component of the terrestrial water cycle. Yet there is a huge gap in our understanding of groundwater's spatial and temporal variability, between the local, sub-daily scales of piezometer measurement-driven hydrogeologic investigations and the monthly, regional-scale retrievals of the only remote sensing system able to detect groundwater storage variations, GRACE. The need for improving that understanding has never been greater. Not only is groundwater a vital resource which is rapidly being depleted in many parts of the world, but GRACE now provides fantastic potential to study and monitor it, if only we can adeptly isolate groundwater from the other terrestrial water storage components contained in the GRACE signal. Herein we propose to use data from several observation networks of varied extent to define the statistics of groundwater variability, how these change with spatial scale, and how they relate to other elements of the water cycle. It is our hypothesis that groundwater exhibits modes of variability which, like those of soil moisture, can be characterized and used to optimize remote sensing system design and retrievals and to maximize the value of sparse in situ observations. Further, we will run advanced versions of three sophisticated LSMs (Catchment, Noah, and CLM) at the continental scale, each including a groundwater storage module, in order to evaluate their ability to replicate the observed variability. This is significant because all three models are currently used as the land component of atmospheric data assimilation and prediction systems at their respective institutions, and it is now recognized that groundwater can influence atmospheric processes. Finally, we will assess the performance of a GRACE data assimilating version of the Catchment model in downscaling and disaggregating the GRACE data.

Project : Matthew Rodell/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Code 614.3 Greenbelt, MD 20771

Phone: (301)286-9143

Email: matthew.rodell@nasa


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Started: Aug 10, 2010

Last Activity: Dec 16, 2010


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