The North China Plain (NCP) has been experiencing the most severe groundwater depletion in China, leading to a broad region of vertical motions of the Earth’s surface. This paper explores the seasonal and linear trend variations of surface vertical displacements caused by the groundwater changes in NCP from 2009 to 2013 using Global Positioning System (GPS) and Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) techniques. Results show that the peak-to-peak amplitude of GPS-derived annual variation is about 3.7~6.0 mm and is highly correlated (R > 0.6 for most selected GPS stations) with results from GRACE, which would confirm that the vertical displacements of continuous GPS (CGPS) stations are mainly caused by groundwater storage (GWS) changes in NCP, since GWS is the dominant component of total water storage (TWS) anomalies in this area. The linear trends of selected bedrock-located IGS CGPS stations reveal the distinct GWS changes in period of 2009–2010 (decrease) and 2011–2013 (rebound), which are consistent with results from GRACE-derived GWS anomalies and in situ GWS observations. This result implies that the rate of groundwater depletion in NCP has slowed in recent years. The impacts of geological condition (bedrock or sediment) of CGPS stations to their results are also investigated in this study. Contrasted with the slight linear rates (−0.69~1.5 mm/a) of bedrock-located CGPS stations, the linear rates of sediment-located CGPS stations are between −44 mm/a and −17 mm/a. It is due to the opposite vertical displacements induced by the Earth surface’s porous and elastic response to groundwater depletion. Besides, the distinct renewal characteristics of shallow and deep groundwater in NCP are discussed. The GPS-based vertical displacement time series, to some extent, can reflect the quicker recovery of shallow unconfined groundwater than the deep confined groundwater in NCP; through one month earlier to attain the maximum height for CGPS stations nearby shallow groundwater depression cones than those nearby deep groundwater depression cones.
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