02 Dec 2022
 | 02 Dec 2022
Status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

A global analysis of water storage variations from remotely sensed soil moisture and daily satellite gravimetry

Daniel Blank, Annette Eicker, Laura Jensen, and Andreas Güntner

Abstract. Water storage changes in the soil can be observed on a global scale with different types of satellite remote sensing. While active or passive microwave sensors are limited to the upper few centimeters of the soil, satellite gravimetry can detect changes of terrestrial water storage (TWS) in an integrative way but it cannot distinguish between storage variations in different compartments or soil depths. Jointly analyzing both data types promises novel insights into the dynamics of subsurface water storage and of related hydrological processes. In this study, we investigate the global relationship of (1) several satellite soil moisture products and (2) non-standard daily TWS data from the GRACE and GRACE-FO satellite gravimetry missions on different time scales. The six soil moisture products analyzed in this study differ in post-processing and the considered soil depth. Level-3 surface soil moisture data sets of SMAP and SMOS are compared to post-processed Level-4 data products (surface and root zone soil moisture) and the ESA CCI multi-satellite product. On a common global 1 degree grid, we decompose all TWS and soil moisture data into seasonal to sub-monthly signal components and compare their spatial patterns and temporal variability. We find larger correlations between TWS and soil moisture for soil moisture products with deeper integration depths (root zone vs. surface layer) and for Level-4 data products. Even for high-pass filtered sub-monthly variations, significant correlations of up to 0.6 can be found in regions with large high-frequency storage variability. A time-shift analysis of TWS versus soil moisture data reveals the differences in water storage dynamics with integration depth.

Daniel Blank et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on hess-2022-398', Anonymous Referee #1, 11 Dec 2022
  • CC1: 'Comment on hess-2022-398', Abhishek Abhi, 05 Jan 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on hess-2022-398', Anonymous Referee #2, 14 Feb 2023

Daniel Blank et al.

Daniel Blank et al.


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Short summary
Soil moisture (SM), a key variable of the global water cycle, is analyzed using two types of satellite observations: microwave sensors measure the top few centimeters and satellite gravimetry (GRACE) the full vertical water column. As SM can change very fast non-standard daily GRACE data are applied for the first time for this analysis. Jointly analyzing theses data gives insight into the SM dynamics in different soil depths and time shifts indicate the infiltration time into deeper layers.