Articles | Volume 15, issue 2
Research article
09 Feb 2011
Research article |  | 09 Feb 2011

Past terrestrial water storage (1980–2008) in the Amazon Basin reconstructed from GRACE and in situ river gauging data

M. Becker, B. Meyssignac, L. Xavier, A. Cazenave, R. Alkama, and B. Decharme

Abstract. Terrestrial water storage (TWS) composed of surface waters, soil moisture, groundwater and snow where appropriate, is a key element of global and continental water cycle. Since 2002, the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) space gravimetry mission provides a new tool to measure large-scale TWS variations. However, for the past few decades, direct estimate of TWS variability is accessible from hydrological modeling only. Here we propose a novel approach that combines GRACE-based TWS spatial patterns with multi-decadal-long in situ river level records, to reconstruct past 2-D TWS over a river basin. Results are presented for the Amazon Basin for the period 1980–2008, focusing on the interannual time scale. Results are compared with past TWS estimated by the global hydrological model ISBA-TRIP. Correlations between reconstructed past interannual TWS variability and known climate forcing modes over the region (e.g., El Niño-Southern Oscillation and Pacific Decadal Oscillation) are also estimated. This method offers new perspective for improving our knowledge of past interannual TWS in world river basins where natural climate variability (as opposed to direct anthropogenic forcing) drives TWS variations.