Retrieving snow mass from GRACE terrestrial water storage change with a land surface model

Guo Yue Niu, Ki Weon Seo, Zong Liang Yang, Clark Wilson, Hua Su, Jianli Chen, Matthew Rodell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


A reliable snow water equivalent (SWE) product is critical for climate and hydrology studies in Arctic regions. Passive microwave sensors aboard satellites provide a capability of observing global SWE and have produced many SWE datasets. However, these datasets have significant errors in boreal forest regions and where snowpack is deep or wet. The Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites are measuring changes in terrestrial water storage (TWS), of which snow mass is the primary component in winter Arctic river basins. This paper shows SWE can be derived from GRACE TWS change in regions where the ground is not covered by snow in a summer month if accurate changes in below-ground water storage (including soil water and groundwater) can be provided by a land surface model. Based on gravity change, the GRACE-derived SWE estimates are not affected by the boreal forest canopy and are more accurate in deep snow regions than microwave retrievals. The paper also discusses the uncertainties in the SWE retrievals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL15704
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 16 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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