Using GRACE to constrain precipitation amount over cold mountainous basins

Geophysical Research Letters | Behrangi et al. [2017]

Abstract

Despite the importance for hydrology and climate-change studies, current quantitative knowledge on the amount and distribution of precipitation in mountainous and high-elevation regions is limited due to instrumental and retrieval shortcomings. Here by focusing on two large endorheic basins in High Mountain Asia, we show that satellite gravimetry (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE)) can be used to provide an independent estimate of monthly accumulated precipitation using mass balance equation. Results showed that the GRACE-based precipitation estimate has the highest agreement with most of the commonly used precipitation products in summer, but it deviates from them in cold months, when the other products are expected to have larger errors. It was found that most of the products capture about or less than 50% of the total precipitation estimated using GRACE in winter. Overall, Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP) showed better agreement with GRACE estimate than other products. Yet on average GRACE showed ~30% more annual precipitation than GPCP in the study basins. In basins of appropriate size with an absence of dense ground measurements, as is a typical case in cold mountainous regions, we find GRACE can be a viable alternative to constrain monthly and seasonal precipitation estimates from other remotely sensed precipitation products that show large bias.

Full text can be found here.

 

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