Articles | Volume 17, issue 12
Research article
06 Dec 2013
Research article |  | 06 Dec 2013

Regional GRACE-based estimates of water mass variations over Australia: validation and interpretation

L. Seoane, G. Ramillien, F. Frappart, and M. Leblanc

Abstract. Time series of regional 2° × 2° Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) solutions have been computed from 2003 to 2011 with a 10-day resolution by using an energy integral method over Australia (112° E–156° E; 44° S–10° S). This approach uses the dynamical orbit analysis of GRACE Level 1 measurements, and specially accurate along-track K-band range rate (KBRR) residuals with a 1 μm s−1 level of errors, to estimate the total water mass over continental regions. The advantages of regional solutions are a significant reduction of GRACE aliasing errors (i.e. north–south stripes) providing a more accurate estimation of water mass balance for hydrological applications. In this paper, the validation of these regional solutions over Australia is presented, as well as their ability to describe water mass change as a response of climate forcings such as El Niño. Principal component analysis of GRACE-derived total water storage (TWS) maps shows spatial and temporal patterns that are consistent with independent data sets (e.g. rainfall, climate index and in situ observations). Regional TWS maps show higher spatial correlations with in situ water table measurements over Murray–Darling drainage basin (80–90%), and they offer a better localization of hydrological structures than classical GRACE global solutions (i.e. Level 2 Groupe de Recherche en Géodésie Spatiale (GRGS)) products and 400 km independent component analysis solutions as a linear combination of GRACE solutions provided by different centers.