EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Emerging instability in global terrestrial water storage since 2010

Shuang Yi and Nico Sneeuw
Shuang Yi and Nico Sneeuw
  • University of Stuttgart, Institute of Geodesy, Aerospace Engineering and Geodesy, Stuttgart, Germany (

Global terrestrial water storage (TWS) is an indicator of the integrated impact of climate variability on the environment. Accurate assessments of global TWS also facilitate the understanding of disturbances in global sea level rise. Gravity satellite GRACE has proved to be an effective tool in monitoring global TWS changes. With the latest observations of GRACE and GRACE Follow-on, we estimated the global TWS from April 2002 to October 2019, and found contrasting variations in global TWS before and after 2010. Before 2010, the global TWS was almost stable with variations that contribute only a few millimeters of sea level change; while the stability is ceased after the 2010/11 La Nina and three drastic fluctuations of up to 10 millimeters sea level contribution have occurred since then. We find these TWS changes have a good linear relationship with the global precipitation trend, rather than the accumulation of net precipitation, indicating that the precipitation trend is the main driving force of the recent global TWS instability. We further investigate the sensitivities of TWS to precipitation in basins.

How to cite: Yi, S. and Sneeuw, N.: Emerging instability in global terrestrial water storage since 2010, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-17922,, 2020


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displays version 1 – uploaded on 03 May 2020
  • CC1: Comment on EGU2020-17922, Robert Dill, 05 May 2020

    Concerning your question, if TWS changes also affect Earth rotation. Yes, we find long term trends in the poalr motion coordinates, that are caused by sea-level changes and/or trends in the water distribution on land. Effects are small, but detectable as they are significantly different from the larger seasonal variations.

    • AC1: Reply to CC1, Shuang Yi, 05 May 2020

      Thank you for the information. Could you please tell me how much of the seasonal and long-term variations in polar motion comes from changes in land water storage and sea level?

      • CC2: Reply to AC1, Robert Dill, 05 May 2020

        I have this numbers in my office. Unfortunately it's closed due to Covid-19. Send me an email to remind me and I will answer as soon as I am back in the office.

        • AC2: Reply to CC2, Shuang Yi, 05 May 2020

          Thanks. I've sent the email.