Using GRACE Satellite data and Ground-based Monitoring and Modeling to Assess Drought Impacts on Water Resources in the Western U.S.

2015 Fall Cyberseminar Series

Bridget Scanlon / Bureau of Economic Geology, University of Texas at Austin

Talk Description:

Authors: Bridget R. Scanlon, Zizhan Zhang, Himanshu Save, Di Long, Laurent Longuevergne, Bob Reedy, Don Pool, Claudia Faunt, and Todd Caldwell

There is increasing interest in using GRACE satellite data to evaluate water resources. In this presentation we will discuss recent advances in GRACE satellite data, including traditional GRACE basin scale data, gridded GRACE data based on spherical harmonics, and Mascons data. Applications of GRACE data to estimate changes in total water storage in response to droughts will be described using the California Central Valley, Colorado River Basin, and Texas as case studies. Basic questions that will be addressed include:

Which of the water budget components dominate total water storage declines during droughts? Reservoir storage, soil moisture storage, groundwater storage?

In cases where groundwater storage is dominant, how much of the depletion is related to natural response to drought versus anthropogenic pumping?

How can we evaluate the reliability of groundwater storage changes from GRACE data?

We will attempt to address each of these questions for the case studies using GRACE data and reservoir storage, soil moisture storage from land surface models (NLDAS, GLDAS), ground-based gravity data (Arizona), groundwater level monitoring data, and regional groundwater modeling. Our results highlight the importance of combining GRACE remote sensing data with ground-based monitoring data to constrain uncertainties in water storage changes related to drought.


Bridget Scanlon is a Senior Research Scientist at the Bureau of Economic Geology, Jackson School of Geosciences, University of Texas at Austin. Her recent research evaluates impacts of drought on water resources in different basins using remote sensing and ground-based data. She collaborates with researchers at the Center for Space Research at the Univ. of Texas on GRACE data. 

CUAHSI's 2015 Fall Cybseminar Series on The Western U.S. Drought on the Ground and from Space: Combining in situ and remotely sensed data to understand and mitigate drought!

Hosted by Todd Caldwell Bureau of Economic Geology, University of Texas