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A Decade of Water Storage Changes Across the Contiguous United States From GPS and Satellite Gravity

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Increased climate variability is driving changes in water storage across the contiguous United States (CONUS). Observational estimates of these storage changes are important for validation of hydrological models and predicting future water availability. We estimate CONUS terrestrial water storage anomalies (TWSA) from 2007–2017 using Global Positioning System (GPS) displacements, constrained by lower-resolution TWSA observations from Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite gravity—a combination that provides higher spatiotemporal resolution than previous estimates. The relative contribution of seasonal, interannual, and subseasonal TWSA varies widely across CONUS watersheds, with implications for regional water security. Separately, we find positive correlation between TWSA and the El Niño/Southern Oscillation in the southeastern Texas-Gulf and South Atlantic-Gulf watersheds and an unexpected negative correlation in the southwest. In the western United States, atmospheric rivers (ARs) drive a large fraction of subseasonal TWSA, with the top 5% of ARs contributing 73% of total AR-related TWSA increases.

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