Tuesday, 12 January 2016
The Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment (GRACE) mission is unique because it provides highly accurate column integrated estimates of terrestrial water storage (TWS) variations. Major limitations of GRACE-based TWS observations are related to their monthly temporal and coarse spatial resolution (around 330 km at the equator), and to the vertical integration of the water storage components. These challenges can be addressed through data assimilation. To date, it is still not obvious how best to assimilate GRACE-TWS observations into a land surface model, in order to improve hydrological variables, and many details have yet to be worked out. This presentation discusses specific recent features of the assimilation of gridded GRACE-TWS data into the NASA Goddard Earth Observing System (GEOS-5) Catchment land surface model to improve soil moisture and shallow groundwater estimates at the continental scale. The major recent advancements introduced by the presented work with respect to earlier systems include: 1) the assimilation of gridded GRACE-TWS data product with scaling factors that are specifically derived for data assimilation purposes only; 2) the assimilation is performed through a 3D assimilation scheme, in which reasonable spatial and temporal error standard deviations and correlations are exploited; 3) the analysis step uses an optimized calculation and application of the analysis increments; 4) a poor-man's adaptive estimation of a spatially variable measurement error. This work shows that even if they are characterized by a coarse spatial and temporal resolution, the observed column integrated GRACE-TWS data have potential for improving our understanding of soil moisture and shallow groundwater variations.
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