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Cascading Dynamics of the Hydrologic Cycle in California Explored through Observations and Model Simulations

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, CA 91125, USA
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Geosciences 2020, 10(2), 71; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences10020071
Received: 3 January 2020 / Revised: 3 February 2020 / Accepted: 9 February 2020 / Published: 14 February 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Groundwater in arid and semiarid areas)
As drought occurs in a region it can have cascading effects through the water cycle. In this study, we explore the temporal co-evolution of various components of the hydrologic cycle in California from 2002 to 2018. We combine information from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites, the North American Land Data Assimilation System (NLDAS) suite of models, and the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) reservoir levels to analyze dynamics of Total Water Storage (TWS), soil moisture, snow pack, large reservoir storage, and ultimately, groundwater. For TWS, a trend of −2 cm/yr is observed during the entire time period of our analysis; however, this rate increases to about −5 cm/yr during drought periods (2006−2010 and 2012−2016). Results indicate that the majority of the loss in TWS is caused by groundwater depletion. Using proper error accounting, we are able to identify the start, the peak, and the ending of the drought periods for each individual water state variable in the study domain. We show that snow and soil moisture are impacted earlier and recover faster than surface water and groundwater. The annual and year-to-year dynamics shown in our results portray a clear cascading effect of the hydrologic cycle on the scale of 8−16 months
Keywords: drought; hydrologic cycle; GRACE; NLDAS; water depletion; California drought; hydrologic cycle; GRACE; NLDAS; water depletion; California
MDPI and ACS Style

Massoud, E.; Turmon, M.; Reager, J.; Hobbs, J.; Liu, Z.; David, C.H. Cascading Dynamics of the Hydrologic Cycle in California Explored through Observations and Model Simulations. Geosciences 2020, 10, 71.

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