Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., 7, 4501-4533, 2010
www.hydrol-earth-syst-sci-discuss.net/7/4501/2010/
doi:10.5194/hessd-7-4501-2010
© Author(s) 2010. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Review Status
This discussion paper has been under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS). A final paper in HESS is not foreseen.
Interpretation of GRACE data of the Nile Basin using a groundwater recharge model
H. C. Bonsor1, M. M. Mansour2, A. M. MacDonald1, A. G. Hughes2, R. G. Hipkin3, and T. Bedada3
1British Geological Survey, Murchison House, West Mains Road, Edinburgh, UK
2British Geological Survey, Kingsley Dunham Centre, Keyworth, Nottingham, UK
3Grant Institute, Edinburgh University, West Mains Road, Edinburgh, UK

Abstract. Assessing and quantifying natural water storage is becoming increasingly important as nations develop strategies for economic growth and adaptations measures for climate change. The Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) data provide a new opportunity to gain a direct and independent measure of water mass variations on a regional scale. Hydrological models are required to interpret these mass variations and partition them between different parts of the hydrological cycle, but groundwater storage has generally been poorly constrained by such models. This study focused on the Nile basin, and used a groundwater recharge model ZOODRM (Zoomable Object Oriented Distributed Recharge Model) to help interpret the seasonal variation in terrestrial water storage indicated by GRACE. The recharge model was constructed using almost entirely remotely sensed input data and calibrated to observed hydrological data from the Nile. GRACE data for the Nile Basin indicates an annual terrestrial water storage of approximately 200 km3: water input is from rainfall, and much of this water is evaporated within the basin since average annual outflow of the Nile is less than 30 km3. Total annual recharge simulated by ZOODRM is 400 km3/yr; 0–50 mm/yr within the semi arid lower catchments, and a mean of 250 mm/yr in the sub-tropical upper catchments. These results are comparable to the few site specific studies of recharge in the basin. Accounting for year-round discharge of groundwater, the seasonal groundwater storage is 100–150 km3/yr and seasonal change in soil moisture, 30 km3/yr. Together, they account for between 50 and 90% of the annual water storage in the catchment. The annual water mass variation (200 km3/yr) is an order of magnitude smaller than the rainfall input into the catchment (2000 km3/yr), which could be consistent with a high degree of moisture recycling within the basin. Future work is required to advance the calibration of the ZOODRM model, particularly improving the timing of runoff routing.

Citation: Bonsor, H. C., Mansour, M. M., MacDonald, A. M., Hughes, A. G., Hipkin, R. G., and Bedada, T.: Interpretation of GRACE data of the Nile Basin using a groundwater recharge model, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., 7, 4501-4533, doi:10.5194/hessd-7-4501-2010, 2010.
 
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