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GRACE-REC: a reconstruction of climate-driven water storage changes over the last century

Humphrey, Vincent and Gudmundsson, Lukas (2019) GRACE-REC: a reconstruction of climate-driven water storage changes over the last century. Earth System Science Data, 11 (3). pp. 1153-1170. ISSN 1866-3516.

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The amount of water stored on continents is an important constraint for water mass and energy exchanges in the Earth system and exhibits large inter-annual variability at both local and continental scales. From 2002 to 2017, the satellites of the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) mission have observed changes in terrestrial water storage (TWS) with an unprecedented level of accuracy. In this paper, we use a statistical model trained with GRACE observations to reconstruct past climate-driven changes in TWS from historical and near-real-time meteorological datasets at daily and monthly scales. Unlike most hydrological models which represent water reservoirs individually (e.g., snow, soil moisture) and usually provide a single model run, the presented approach directly reconstructs total TWS changes and includes hundreds of ensemble members which can be used to quantify predictive uncertainty. We compare these data-driven TWS estimates with other independent evaluation datasets such as the sea level budget, large-scale water balance from atmospheric reanalysis, and in situ streamflow measurements. We find that the presented approach performs overall as well or better than a set of state-of-the-art global hydrological models (Water Resources Reanalysis version 2). We provide reconstructed TWS anomalies at a spatial resolution of 0.5∘, at both daily and monthly scales over the period 1901 to present, based on two different GRACE products and three different meteorological forcing datasets, resulting in six reconstructed TWS datasets of 100 ensemble members each. Possible user groups and applications include hydrological modeling and model benchmarking, sea level budget studies, assessments of long-term changes in the frequency of droughts, the analysis of climate signals in geodetic time series, and the interpretation of the data gap between the GRACE and GRACE Follow-On missions. The presented dataset is published at (Humphrey and Gudmundsson, 2019) and updates will be published regularly.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription Material
Humphrey, Vincent0000-0002-2541-6382
Gudmundsson, Lukas0000-0003-3539-8621
Additional Information:© 2019 Author(s). This work is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License. Received: 6 February 2019 – Discussion started: 13 February 2019; Revised: 3 June 2019 – Accepted: 21 June 2019 – Published: 2 August 2019. Data Availability: The presented dataset is publicly available (, Humphrey and Gudmundsson, 2019) and updates of the two reconstructions driven by ERA5 will be published when needed. We note that because including additional GRACE months only barely improves the quality of the model fit, no systematic recalibration of the models is planned at this stage. The data can be freely used provided this paper is acknowledged. All datasets used in this paper are available at the following locations: GSWP3 (, GRACE JPL mascons (, last access: 18 July 2019), GRACE GSFC (, last access: 18 July 2019), MSWEP V2 (, last access: 18 July 2019), ERA5 (\#!/search?text=ERA5&type=dataset, last access: 18 July 2019), ITSG-Grace2018 (, last access: 18 July 2019), NASA Sea Level Change Portal (, last access: 18 July 2019), BSWB (, Hirschi and Seneviratne, 2016), GRDC Reference Dataset (, last access: 18 July 2019), GSIM (, Do et al., 2018b), WRR2 (, last access: 18 July 2019), and the Earth2Observe project (, last access: 18 July 2019). Supplement: The supplement related to this article is available online at: Author contributions: VH and LG developed the approach. VH performed the analyses, produced the dataset and wrote the paper with feedback from LG. The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest. We thank Sonia Seneviratne for critical feedback and support of this work. We thank Hyungjun Kim for developing the GSWP3 forcing and providing us with early access to the data. We thank Richard Wartenburger for technical support. Model developers and data providers are also gratefully acknowledged for sharing their data. This research has been supported by the European Research Council (DROUGHT-HEAT (grant no. 617518)) and by the Swiss National Science Foundation (grant no. P400P2_180784). Review statement: This paper was edited by Christian Voigt and reviewed by three anonymous referees.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
European Research Council (ERC)617518
Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)P400P2_180784
Issue or Number:3
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20190815-140010683
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Official Citation:Humphrey, V. and Gudmundsson, L.: GRACE-REC: a reconstruction of climate-driven water storage changes over the last century, Earth Syst. Sci. Data, 11, 1153-1170,, 2019
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:97928
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:15 Aug 2019 21:09
Last Modified:06 Dec 2019 17:31

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