• GRACE;
  • Amazon;
  • water

[1] Satellite gravity measurements from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) provide new quantitative measures of the 2005 extreme drought event in the Amazon river basin, regarded as the worst in over a century. GRACE measures a significant decrease in terrestrial water storage (TWS) in the central Amazon basin in the summer of 2005, relative to the average of the 5 other summer periods in the GRACE era. In contrast, data-assimilating climate and land surface models significantly underestimate the drought intensity. GRACE measurements are consistent with accumulated precipitation data from satellite remote sensing and are also supported by in situ water-level data from river gauge stations. This study demonstrates the unique potential of satellite gravity measurements in monitoring large-scale severe drought and flooding events and in evaluating advanced climate and land surface models.