J. T. Reager


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Underlying Fundamentals of Kalman Filtering for River Network Modeling
Charlotte Emery, Cédric H. David, Konstantinos M. Andreadis, M. Turmon, J. T. Reager, Jonathan Hobbs, Ming Pan, J. S. Famiglietti, R. Edward Beighley, Matthew Rodell
Journal of Hydrometeorology, Volume 21, Issue 3

Abstract The grand challenge of producing hydrometeorological estimates every time and everywhere has motivated the fusion of sparse observations with dense numerical models, with a particular interest on discharge in river modeling. Ensemble methods are largely preferred as they enable the estimation of error properties, but at the expense of computational load and generally with underestimations. These imperfect stochastic estimates motivate the use of correction methods, that is, error localization and inflation, although the physical justifications for their optimality are limited. The purpose of this study is to use one of the simplest forms of data assimilation when applied to river modeling and reveal the underlying mechanisms impacting its performance. Our framework based on assimilating daily averaged in situ discharge measurements to correct daily averaged runoff was tested over a 4-yr case study of two rivers in Texas. Results show that under optimal conditions of inflation and localization, discharge simulations are consistently improved such that the mean values of Nash–Sutcliffe efficiency are enhanced from −11.32 to 0.55 at observed gauges and from −12.24 to −1.10 at validation gauges. Yet, parameters controlling the inflation and the localization have a large impact on the performance. Further investigations of these sensitivities showed that optimal inflation occurs when compensating exactly for discrepancies in the magnitude of errors while optimal localization matches the distance traveled during one assimilation window. These results may be applicable to more advanced data assimilation methods as well as for larger applications motivated by upcoming river-observing satellite missions, such as NASA’s Surface Water and Ocean Topography mission.

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Divergent effects of climate change on future groundwater availability in key mid-latitude aquifers
Wen‐Ying Wu, Min‐Hui Lo, Yoshihide Wada, J. S. Famiglietti, J. T. Reager, Pat J.‐F. Yeh, Agnès Ducharne, Zong‐Liang Yang
Nature Communications, Volume 11, Issue 1

Abstract Groundwater provides critical freshwater supply, particularly in dry regions where surface water availability is limited. Climate change impacts on GWS (groundwater storage) could affect the sustainability of freshwater resources. Here, we used a fully-coupled climate model to investigate GWS changes over seven critical aquifers identified as significantly distressed by satellite observations. We assessed the potential climate-driven impacts on GWS changes throughout the 21 st century under the business-as-usual scenario (RCP8.5). Results show that the climate-driven impacts on GWS changes do not necessarily reflect the long-term trend in precipitation; instead, the trend may result from enhancement of evapotranspiration, and reduction in snowmelt, which collectively lead to divergent responses of GWS changes across different aquifers. Finally, we compare the climate-driven and anthropogenic pumping impacts. The reduction in GWS is mainly due to the combined impacts of over-pumping and climate effects; however, the contribution of pumping could easily far exceed the natural replenishment.


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Asymmetric Response of Land Storage to ENSO Phase and Duration
Hrishikesh A. Chandanpurkar, John T. Fasullo, J. T. Reager, R. S. Nerem, J. S. Famiglietti
Water, Volume 11, Issue 11

Emergence of global mean sea level (GMSL) from a ‘hiatus’ following a persistent La Niña highlights the need to understand the causes of interannual variability in GMSL. Several studies link interannual variability in GMSL to anomalous transport of water mass between land and ocean—and subsequent changes in water storage in these reservoirs—primarily driven by El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Despite this, asymmetries in teleconnections between ENSO mode and land water storage have received less attention. We use historical simulations of natural climate variability to characterize asymmetries in the hydrological response to ENSO based on phase and duration. Findings indicate pronounced phase-specific and duration-specific asymmetries covering up to 93 and 50 million km2 land area, respectively. The asymmetries are seasonally dependent, and based on the mean regional climate are capable of influencing inherently bounded storage by pushing the storage-precipitation relationship towards nonlinearity. The nonlinearities are more pronounced in dry regions in the dry season, wet regions in the wet season, and during Year 2 of persistent ENSO events, limiting the magnitude of associated anomalies under persistent ENSO influence. The findings have implications for a range of stakeholders, including sea level researchers and water managers.

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Analytical Propagation of Runoff Uncertainty Into Discharge Uncertainty Through a Large River Network
Cédric H. David, Jonathan Hobbs, M. Turmon, Charlotte Emery, J. T. Reager, J. S. Famiglietti
Geophysical Research Letters, Volume 46, Issue 14

The transport of freshwater from continents to oceans through rivers has traditionally been estimated by routing runoff from land surface models within river models to obtain discharge. This paradigm imposes that errors are transferred from runoff to discharge, yet the analytical propagation of uncertainty from runoff to discharge has never been derived. Here we apply statistics to the continuity equation within a river network to derive two equations that propagate the mean and variance/covariance of runoff errors independently. We validate these equations in a case study of the rivers in the western United States and, for the first time, invert observed discharge errors for spatially distributed runoff errors. Our results suggest that the largest discharge error source is the joint variability of runoff errors across space, not the mean or amplitude of individual errors. Our findings significantly advance the science of error quantification in model‐based estimates of river discharge.

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A High-Resolution Data Assimilation Framework for Snow Water Equivalent Estimation across the Western United States and Validation with the Airborne Snow Observatory
C. M. Oaida, J. T. Reager, Konstantinos M. Andreadis, Cédric H. David, S. Levoe, T. H. Painter, K. J. Bormann, A. Trangsrud, Manuela Girotto, J. S. Famiglietti
Journal of Hydrometeorology, Volume 20, Issue 3

Abstract Numerical simulations of snow water equivalent (SWE) in mountain systems can be biased, and few SWE observations have existed over large domains. New approaches for measuring SWE, like NASA’s ultra-high-resolution Airborne Snow Observatory (ASO), offer an opportunity to improve model estimates by providing a high-quality validation target. In this study, a computationally efficient snow data assimilation (DA) approach over the western United States at 1.75-km spatial resolution for water years (WYs) 2001–17 is presented. A local ensemble transform Kalman filter implemented as a batch smoother is used with the VIC hydrology model to assimilate the remotely sensed daily MODIS fractional snow-covered area (SCA). Validation of the high-resolution SWE estimates is done against ASO SWE data in the Tuolumne basin (California), Uncompahgre basin (Colorado), and Olympic Peninsula (Washington). Results indicate good performance in dry years and during melt, with DA reducing Tuolumne basin-average SWE percent differences from −68%, −92%, and −84% in open loop to 0.6%, 25%, and 3% after DA for WYs 2013–15, respectively, for ASO dates and spatial extent. DA also improved SWE percent difference over the Uncompahgre basin (−84% open loop, −65% DA) and Olympic Peninsula (26% open loop, −0.2% DA). However, in anomalously wet years DA underestimates SWE, likely due to an inadequate snow depletion curve parameterization. Despite potential shortcomings due to VIC model setup (e.g., water balance mode) or parameterization (snow depletion curve), the DA framework implemented in this study shows promise in overcoming some of these limitations and improving estimated SWE, in particular during drier years or at higher elevations, when most in situ observations cannot capture high-elevation snowpack due to lack of stations there.

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Model-data fusion of hydrologic simulations and GRACE terrestrial water storage observations to estimate changes in water table depth
D. Stampoulis, J. T. Reager, Cédric H. David, Konstantinos M. Andreadis, J. S. Famiglietti, Tom G. Farr, A. Trangsrud, Ralph R. Basilio, John L. Sabo, G. B. Osterman, P. Lundgren, Zhen Liu
Advances in Water Resources, Volume 128

Abstract Despite numerous advances in continental-scale hydrologic modeling and improvements in global Land Surface Models, an accurate representation of regional water table depth (WTD) remains a challenge. Data assimilation of observations from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) mission leads to improvements in the accuracy of hydrologic models, ultimately resulting in more reliable estimates of lumped water storage. However, the usually shallow groundwater compartment of many models presents a problem with GRACE assimilation techniques, as these satellite observations also represent changes in deeper soils and aquifers. To improve the accuracy of modeled groundwater estimates and allow the representation of WTD at finer spatial scales, we implemented a simple, yet novel approach to integrate GRACE data, by augmenting the Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC) hydrologic model. First, the subsurface model structural representation was modified by incorporating an additional (fourth) soil layer of varying depth (up to 1000 m) in VIC as the bottom ‘groundwater’ layer. This addition allows the model to reproduce water storage variability not only in shallow soils but also in deeper groundwater, in order to allow integration of the full GRACE-observed variability. Second, a Direct Insertion scheme was developed that integrates the high temporal (daily) and spatial (∼6.94 km) resolution model outputs to match the GRACE resolution, performs the integration, and then disaggregates the updated model state after the assimilation step. Simulations were performed with and without Direct Insertion over the three largest river basins in California and including the Central Valley, in order to test the augmented model's ability to capture seasonal and inter-annual trends in the water table. This is the first-ever fusion of GRACE total water storage change observations with hydrologic simulations aiming at the determination of water table depth dynamics, at spatial scales potentially useful for local water management.

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Contributions of GRACE to understanding climate change
Byron D Tapley, M. M. Watkins, Frank Flechtner, Christoph Reigber, Srinivas Bettadpur, Matthew Rodell, Ingo Sasgen, J. S. Famiglietti, F. W. Landerer, D. P. Chambers, J. T. Reager, Alex Gardner, Himanshu Save, E. R. Ivins, Sean Swenson, Carmen Böening, Christoph Dahle, D. N. Wiese, Henryk Dobslaw, M. E. Tamisiea, I. Velicogna
Nature Climate Change, Volume 9, Issue 5

Time-resolved satellite gravimetry has revolutionized understanding of mass transport in the Earth system. Since 2002, the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) has enabled monitoring of the terrestrial water cycle, ice sheet and glacier mass balance, sea level change and ocean bottom pressure variations and understanding responses to changes in the global climate system. Initially a pioneering experiment of geodesy, the time-variable observations have matured into reliable mass transport products, allowing assessment and forecast of a number of important climate trends and improve service applications such as the U.S. Drought Monitor. With the successful launch of the GRACE Follow-On mission, a multi decadal record of mass variability in the Earth system is within reach.


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Emerging trends in global freshwater availability
Matthew Rodell, J. S. Famiglietti, D. N. Wiese, J. T. Reager, H. K. Beaudoing, F. W. Landerer, Min‐Hui Lo
Nature, Volume 557, Issue 7707

Freshwater availability is changing worldwide. Here we quantify 34 trends in terrestrial water storage observed by the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites during 2002-2016 and categorize their drivers as natural interannual variability, unsustainable groundwater consumption, climate change or combinations thereof. Several of these trends had been lacking thorough investigation and attribution, including massive changes in northwestern China and the Okavango Delta. Others are consistent with climate model predictions. This observation-based assessment of how the world's water landscape is responding to human impacts and climate variations provides a blueprint for evaluating and predicting emerging threats to water and food security.

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Recent global decline in endorheic basin water storages
Jida Wang, Chunqiao Song, J. T. Reager, Fangfang Yao, J. S. Famiglietti, Yongwei Sheng, Glen M. MacDonald, Fanny Brun, Hannes Müller Schmied, Richard A. Marston, Yoshihide Wada
Nature Geoscience, Volume 11, Issue 12

Endorheic (hydrologically landlocked) basins spatially concur with arid/semi-arid climates. Given limited precipitation but high potential evaporation, their water storage is vulnerable to subtle flux perturbations, which are exacerbated by global warming and human activities. Increasing regional evidence suggests a probably recent net decline in endorheic water storage, but this remains unquantified at a global scale. By integrating satellite observations and hydrological modelling, we reveal that during 2002–2016 the global endorheic system experienced a widespread water loss of about 106.3 Gt yr−1, attributed to comparable losses in surface water, soil moisture and groundwater. This decadal decline, disparate from water storage fluctuations in exorheic basins, appears less sensitive to El Nino–Southern Oscillation-driven climate variability, which implies a possible response to longer-term climate conditions and human water management. In the mass-conserved hydrosphere, such an endorheic water loss not only exacerbates local water stress, but also imposes excess water on exorheic basins, leading to a potential sea level rise that matches the contribution of nearly half of the land glacier retreat (excluding Greenland and Antarctica). Given these dual ramifications, we suggest the necessity for long-term monitoring of water storage variation in the global endorheic system and the inclusion of its net contribution to future sea level budgeting.