25 Jul 2023
 | 25 Jul 2023
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Benchmarking multimodel terrestrial water storage seasonal cycle against GRACE observations over major global river basins

Sadia Bibi, Tingju Zhu, Ashraf Rateb, Bridget R. Scanlon, Muhammad Aqeel Kamran, Abdelrazek Elnashar, Ali Bennour, and Ci Li

Abstract. The increasing reliance on global models for evaluating climate and human-induced impacts on the hydrological cycle underscores the importance of assessing their reliability. Hydrological models provide valuable data on ungagged river basins or basins with limited gauge networks. The objective of this study was to evaluate the reliability of 13 global models using the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites total water storage (TWS) seasonal cycle for 29 river basins in different climate zones. Results show that the simulated seasonal total water storage change (TWSC) does not compare well with GRACE even in basins within the same climate zone. The models overestimated the seasonal amplitude in most boreal basins and underestimated it in tropical, arid, and temperate zones. In cold basins, the modeled phase of TWSC precedes that of GRACE by up to 2–3 months. However, it lags the GRACE phase by one month over temperate, arid to semi-arid basins. There was good agreement between GRACE and model amplitudes in the tropical zone. With the findings and analysis, we concluded that R2 models with optimized parametrizations have a better correlation with GRACE than the reverse scenario. This signifies an enhancement in the predictive capability of models regarding the variability of TWSC. The seasonal amplitude and phase-difference analysis in this study provide new insights into the future improvement of large-scale hydrological models and TWS investigations.

Sadia Bibi 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-2023-163', Anonymous Referee #1, 24 Aug 2023
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Tingju Zhu, 08 Sep 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on hess-2023-163', Anonymous Referee #2, 08 Sep 2023
    • CC1: 'Reply on RC2', Sadia Bibi, 15 Sep 2023
  • RC3: 'Comment on hess-2023-163', Anonymous Referee #3, 19 Sep 2023

Sadia Bibi et al.


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Short summary
This study assessed 13 global models using GRACE satellite data over 29 river basins. Simulated seasonal water storage cycles showed discrepancies compared to GRACE. The models overestimated seasonal amplitude in boreal basins, while underestimated in tropical, arid, and temperate zones, and they had 2–3 month phase differences with GRACE in cold basins and 1 month in temperate, arid, and semi-arid basins. Seasonal amplitude and phase differences provide insights for model improvement.