The application of multi-mission satellite data assimilation for studying water storage changes over South America
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Constant monitoring of total water storage (TWS; surface, groundwater, and soil moisture) is essential for water management and policy decisions, especially due to the impacts of climate change and anthropogenic factors. Moreover, for most countries in Africa, Asia, and South America that depend on soil moisture and groundwater for agricultural productivity, monitoring of climate change and anthropogenic impacts on TWS becomes crucial. Hydrological models are widely being used to monitor water storage changes in various regions around the world. Such models, however, comes with uncertainties mainly due to data limitations that warrant enhancement from remotely sensed satellite products. In this study over South America, remotely sensed TWS from the Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite mission is used to constrain the World-Wide Water Resources Assessment (W3RA) model estimates in order to improve their reliabilities. To this end, GRACE-derived TWS and soil moisture observations from the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer - Earth Observing System (AMSR-E) and Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) are assimilated into W3RA using the Ensemble Square-Root Filter (EnSRF) in order to separately analyze groundwater and soil moisture changes for the period 2002–2013. Following the assimilation analysis, Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM)’s rainfall data over 15 major basins of South America and El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) data are employed to demonstrate the advantages gained by the model from the assimilation of GRACE TWS and satellite soil moisture products in studying climatically induced TWS changes. From the results, it can be seen that assimilating these observations improves the performance of W3RA hydrological model. Significant improvements are also achieved as seen from increased correlations between TWS products and both precipitation and ENSO over a majority of basins. The improved knowledge of sub-surface water storages, especially groundwater and soil moisture variations, can be largely helpful for agricultural productivity over South America.
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