Integration of GRACE mass variations into a global hydrological model

S. Werth, A. Güntner, S. Petrovic, R. Schmidt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


Time-variable gravity data of the GRACE (Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment) satellite mission provide global information on temporal variations of continental water storage. In this study, we incorporate GRACE data for the first time directly into the tuning process of a global hydrological model to improve simulations of the continental water cycle. For the WaterGAP Global Hydrology Model (WGHM), we adopt a multi-objective calibration framework to constrain model predictions by both measured river discharge and water storage variations from GRACE and illustrate it on the example of three large river basins: Amazon, Mississippi and Congo. The approach leads to improved simulation results with regard to both objectives. In case of monthly total water storage variations we obtained a RMSE reduction of about 25 mm for the Amazon, 6 mm for the Mississippi and 1 mm for the Congo river basin. The results highlight the valuable nature of GRACE data when merged into large-scale hydrological modeling. Furthermore, they reveal the utility of the multi-objective calibration framework for the integration of remote sensing data into hydrological models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)166-173
Number of pages8
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 15 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • continental water cycle
  • hydrological modeling
  • model calibration
  • multi-objective calibration
  • satellite gravity
  • time variable gravity
  • total water storage change

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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