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

Taylor, R; Shamsudduha, M; (2020) Groundwater storage dynamics in the world’s large aquifer systems from GRACE: uncertainty and role of extreme precipitation. Earth System Dynamics , 11 (3) pp. 755-774. 10.5194/esd-11-755-2020. Green open access

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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 (R^{2} >0.5, p value <0.001) explain variability in only two aquifer systems. Non-linearity in ΔGWS 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 at the scale of the GRACE footprint (∼200 000 km^{2}). 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.

Type: Article
Title: Groundwater storage dynamics in the world’s large aquifer systems from GRACE: uncertainty and role of extreme precipitation
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.5194/esd-11-755-2020
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-11-755-2020
Language: English
Additional information: © Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Inst for Risk and Disaster Reduction
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Geography
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10104183
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