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Multivariate prediction of total water storage anomalies over West Africa from multi-satellite data

Forootan, Ehsan, Kusche, J., Loth, I., Schuh, W-D., Eicke, A., Awange, J., Longuevergne, L., Diekkrueger, B., Schmidt, M. and Shum, C.K. 2014. Multivariate prediction of total water storage anomalies over West Africa from multi-satellite data. Surveys in Geophysics 35 (4) , pp. 913-940. 10.1007/s10712-014-9292-0

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West African countries have been exposed to changes in rainfall patterns over the last decades, including a significant negative trend. This causes adverse effects on water resources of the region, for instance, reduced freshwater availability. Assessing and predicting large-scale total water storage (TWS) variations are necessary for West Africa, due to its environmental, social, and economical impacts. Hydrological models, however, may perform poorly over West Africa due to data scarcity. This study describes a new statistical, data-driven approach for predicting West African TWS changes from (past) gravity data obtained from the gravity recovery and climate experiment (GRACE), and (concurrent) rainfall data from the tropical rainfall measuring mission (TRMM) and sea surface temperature (SST) data over the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. The proposed method, therefore, capitalizes on the availability of remotely sensed observations for predicting monthly TWS, a quantity which is hard to observe in the field but important for measuring regional energy balance, as well as for agricultural, and water resource management. Major teleconnections within these data sets were identified using independent component analysis and linked via low-degree autoregressive models to build a predictive framework. After a learning phase of 72 months, our approach predicted TWS from rainfall and SST data alone that fitted to the observed GRACE-TWS better than that from a global hydrological model. Our results indicated a fit of 79 % and 67 % for the first-year prediction of the two dominant annual and inter-annual modes of TWS variations. This fit reduces to 62 % and 57 % for the second year of projection. The proposed approach, therefore, represents strong potential to predict the TWS over West Africa up to 2 years. It also has the potential to bridge the present GRACE data gaps of 1 month about each 162 days as well as a—hopefully—limited gap between GRACE and the GRACE follow-on mission over West Africa. The method presented could also be used to generate a near-real-time GRACE forecast over the regions that exhibit strong teleconnections.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Ocean Sciences
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Publisher: Springer Verlag
ISSN: 0169-3298
Date of Acceptance: 7 May 2014
Last Modified: 29 Apr 2019 16:35

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