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Remote Sens. 2016, 8(11), 953; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs8110953
- Estimation of the balance of all hydrological fluxes acting vertically and horizontally. The rate of water storage change (ΔS/dt) in a region is the sum of evapotranspiration (ET), precipitation (P) and net surface runoff (ΔR) Equation (1),ΔS/dt = P − ET + ΔR
- Estimation of the water storage change (ΔS) in a region is the sum of storages in soil moisture (SM), snow water equivalent (SWE) and surface water (SW) (Equation (2)). Due to the lack of direct measurements, groundwater storage is not considered in the equation.ΔS = ΔSM + ΔSWE + ΔSW
- Estimation of total water storage variability (ΔTWS) from time-variable gravity data observed by GRACE. The ΔTWS considers the contribution from the surface (reservoirs, river-network, snow, and ice) and subsurface (soil moisture and groundwater) storage changes. However, GRACE cannot resolve individual flux contributions to ΔTWS and the interactions among them.
2. Study Area
3. Data and Methodology
3.1. Sum of Hydrological Mass Fluxes (ΔS/dt)
3.1.1. Net Surface Runoff (ΔR)
3.1.2. Precipitation (P)
3.1.3. Evapotranspiration (ET)
3.2. Sum of Hydrological Storage Compartments (ΔS)
3.2.1. Liquid Surface Water (ΔSW)
3.2.2. Snow Water Equivalent (ΔSWE)
3.2.3. Soil Moisture (Δ SM)
3.3. GRACE-Derived ΔTWS
4.1. Lake Mead (Reservoir) Water Budget
4.2. Lake Mead Region (3° × 3°) Water Budget
4.3. Aral Sea Region (4° × 6°) Water Budget
- This study showed that the inflow-outflow runoff balance predominately drives the volumetric variations in a moderately sized deep reservoir, such as Lake Mead (where open water surface area is in few hundreds of kilometer square and depth is more than 100 m). While the vertical fluxes acting over the reservoir have negligible contributions (blue and green lines in Figure 10 bottom). Therefore, an accurate estimate of reservoir water volume variability may also help to approximate the runoff estimates at a basin level, especially in rivers connected by reservoirs, such as the Colorado River.
- The regional variability in the hydrological state of Lake Mead is driven by the combination of runoff (Figure 2 left) and precipitation (Figure 3 left). During the study period, the region experienced mass gains twice: the first time occurred during Period-2 (2004–2005) by additional local rainfall, and the second time by the additional inflow from upstream in Period-6 (2011). This lets us conclude that GRACE is sufficiently sensitive to observe mass changes of Lake Mead if the magnitude of change is large.
- In the study, ΔTWS observed by GRACE is compared to the estimated hydrological variations in fluxes and storages within the study area. The study showed that the long-term net flux estimation has a larger uncertainty than the total storage, due to the existing larger uncertainties in the vertical fluxes and error propagation through integration. The hybrid approach combining remote sensing-based reservoir volume estimates with hydrological model outputs provides a better possibility for the estimation of total mass change than hydrological models alone.
- The non-seasonal mass depletion in the Aral Sea region observed by GRACE is mainly driven by the reservoir mass loss because SWE is almost stationary (Figure 6 right) and SM has a limited non-seasonal trend (Figure 7 right). This lets us conclude that the causes of mass variations in the region are not local and are driven by upstream water abstraction. On the other hand, the Lake Mead region features almost similar inter-annual variations in SM, SWE, and the reservoir, allowing us to conclude that most of the mass variations are local (except the 2012 inflow anomaly) and climatically driven.
- Since the Aral Sea has changed dramatically in shape and size, the entire hydrological characteristics of the region have been affected. Therefore, for this region, both models inaccurately determine most of the parameters and no reliable in-situ data are available. Hence, for poorly monitored regions such as the Aral Sea, where reliable data is limited, accurate reservoir storage estimates and GRACE-based mass change analysis can greatly improve the understanding of the hydrological state of the region.
Conflicts of Interest
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|Signals (Including Seasonal Component)||The Lake Mead Region (3 × 3)||The Aral Sea Region (4 × 6)|
|Correlation||RMSE (km3)||Correlation||RMSE (km3)|
|Lag 0||Lag 1||Lag 0||Lag 1|
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