Accuracy of scaled GRACE terrestrial water storage estimates



[1] We assess the accuracy of global-gridded terrestrial water storage (TWS) estimates derived from temporal gravity field variations observed by the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites. The TWS data set has been corrected for signal modification due to filtering and truncation. Simulations of terrestrial water storage variations from land-hydrology models are used to infer relationships between regional time series representing different spatial scales. These relationships, which are independent of the actual GRACE data, are used to extrapolate the GRACE TWS estimates from their effective spatial resolution (length scales of a few hundred kilometers) to finer spatial scales (∼100 km). Gridded, scaled data like these enable users who lack expertise in processing and filtering the standard GRACE spherical harmonic geopotential coefficients to estimate the time series of TWS over arbitrarily shaped regions. In addition, we provide gridded fields of leakage and GRACE measurement errors that allow users to rigorously estimate the associated regional TWS uncertainties. These fields are available for download from the GRACE project website (available at Three scaling relationships are examined: a single gain factor based on regionally averaged time series, spatially distributed (i.e., gridded) gain factors based on time series at each grid point, and gridded-gain factors estimated as a function of temporal frequency. While regional gain factors have typically been used in previously published studies, we find that comparable accuracies can be obtained from scaled time series based on gridded gain factors. In regions where different temporal modes of TWS variability have significantly different spatial scales, gain factors based on the first two methods may reduce the accuracy of the scaled time series. In these cases, gain factors estimated separately as a function of frequency may be necessary to achieve accurate results.