Articles | Volume 16, issue 2
Research article
17 Feb 2016
Research article |  | 17 Feb 2016

Variations in water storage in China over recent decades from GRACE observations and GLDAS

X. Mo, J. J. Wu, Q. Wang, and H. Zhou

Abstract. We applied Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) Tellus products in combination with Global Land Data Assimilation System (GLDAS) simulations and data from reports, to analyze variations in terrestrial water storage (TWS) in China as a whole and eight of its basins from 2003 to 2013. Amplitudes of TWS were well restored after scaling, and showed good correlations with those estimated from models at the basin scale. TWS generally followed variations in annual precipitation; it decreased linearly in the Huai River basin (−0.56 cm yr−1) and increased with fluctuations in the Changjiang River basin (0.35 cm yr−1), Zhujiang basin (0.55 cm yr−1) and southeast rivers basin (0.70 cm yr−1). In the Hai River basin and Yellow River basin, groundwater exploitation may have altered TWS's response to climate, and TWS kept decreasing until 2012. Changes in soil moisture storage contributed over 50 % of variance in TWS in most basins. Precipitation and runoff showed a large impact on TWS, with more explained TWS in the south than in the north. North China and southwest rivers region exhibited long-term TWS depletions. TWS has increased significantly over recent decades in the middle and lower reaches of Changjiang River, southeastern coastal areas, as well as the Hoh Xil, and the headstream region of the Yellow River in the Tibetan Plateau. The findings in this study could be helpful to climate change impact research and disaster mitigation planning.

Short summary
GRACE provided a new perspective on the anomaly monitoring of water resources. In 2003–2013, TWS in China generally followed variations in annual precipitation; it decreased in northern basins and increased in the south. In the North China Plain, human activities might have interfered with TWS's response to climate; it kept decreasing until 2012. With grid-scaled TWS, small regions with significant increasing trends were also identified in Hoh Xil and the headstream region of the Yellow River.
Final-revised paper