EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Joint assimilation of GRACE Total Water Storage Anomalies and In-Situ Streamflow Data into a Global Hydrological Model

Kerstin Schulze1, Jürgen Kusche1, Helena Gerdener1, Olga Engels1, Petra Döll2,3, Hannes Müller Schmied2,3, Sebastian Ackermann2, and Somayeh Shadkam2
Kerstin Schulze et al.
  • 1Institute of Geodesy and Geoinformation, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany (
  • 2Institute of Physical Geography, Goethe-University of Frankfurt, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
  • 3Senckenberg Leibniz Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (SBiK-F), Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Global hydrological models simulate water storages and fluxes of the water cycle, motivated to assess water problems such as water scarcity, high flows and more generally the impact of anthropogenic change on the global water system. However, the models include many uncertainties due to the model inputs (e.g. climate forcing data), model parameters, and model structure which can lead to disagreements when simulation results are compared to observations. To reduce and quantify these uncertainties, some of the models are calibrated against in-situ streamflow observations or compared against total water storage anomalies (TWSA) derived from the Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite mission. In recent years, TWSA data are integrated into some models via data assimilation to directly improve the realism of the models.

In this study, we present our framework for jointly assimilating satellite and in-situ observations into the WaterGAP Global Hydrological Model (WGHM). In addition to GRACE TWSA maps, for the first time here we experimentally jointly assimilate in-situ streamflow observations from gauge stations. This is in preparation for the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite, which will be launched this year and is expected to allow the derivation of streamflow observations globally for rivers wider than 50-100m.

GRACE assimilation strongly improves the TWSA simulations in the Mississippi River Basin, e.g. the correlation increases to 91%, with which our results are consistent with previous studies. However, we find in this case that the streamflow simulation deteriorates, for example, correlation reduces from 92% to 61% at the most downstream gauge station. In contrast, jointly assimilating GRACE data and streamflow observations from GRDC gauge stations improves the streamflow observations by up to 33% in terms of e.g. RMSE and correlation while maintaining the good TWSA simulations. In view of the upcoming SWOT mission, our data suggest that the SWOT data will help to further improve the structure and simulations of global hydrological models.

How to cite: Schulze, K., Kusche, J., Gerdener, H., Engels, O., Döll, P., Müller Schmied, H., Ackermann, S., and Shadkam, S.: Joint assimilation of GRACE Total Water Storage Anomalies and In-Situ Streamflow Data into a Global Hydrological Model, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-5321,, 2022.


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