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Numerical modeling and remote sensing of global water management systems: Applications for land surface modeling, satellite missions, and sustainable water resources management

  • Author(s): Solander, Kurt
  • Advisor(s): Famiglietti, James S.
  • et al.
Abstract

The ability to accurately quantify water storages and fluxes in water management systems through observations or models is of increasing importance due to the expected impacts from climate change and population growth worldwide. Here, I describe three innovative techniques developed to better understand this problem. First, a model was created to represent reservoir storage and outflow with the objective of integration into a Land Surface Model (LSM) to simulate the impacts of reservoir management on the climate system. Given this goal, storage capacity represented the lone model input required that is not already available to an LSM user. Model parameterization was linked to air temperature to allow future simulations to adapt to a changing climate, making it the first such model to mimic the potential response of a reservoir operator to climate change. Second, spatial and temporal error properties of future NASA Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite reservoir operations were quantified. This work invoked the use of the SWOTsim instrument simulator, which was run over a number of synthetic and actual reservoirs so the resulting error properties could be extrapolated to the global scale. The results provide eventual users of SWOT data with a blueprint of expected reservoir error properties so such characteristics can be determined a priori for a reservoir given knowledge about its topology and anticipated repeat orbit pass over its location. Finally, data from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite mission was used in conjunction with in-situ water use records to evaluate sustainable water use at the two-digit HUC basin scale over the contiguous United States. Results indicate that the least sustainable water management region is centered in the southwest, where consumptive water use exceeded water availability by over 100% on average for some of these basins. This work represents the first attempt at evaluating sustainable water use using exclusively remote sensing and in-situ observations at the continental scale, and offers a framework for future similar studies attempting to evaluate water use sustainability at large scales.

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