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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
© Author(s) 2015. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
23 Jun 2015
Review status
This discussion paper has been under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS). The revised manuscript was not accepted.
Satellite signal shows storage-unloading subsidence in North China
J. P. Moiwo and F. Tao Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 11 Datun Road, Beijing 100101, China
Abstract. Worsening water storage depletion (WSD) contributes to environmental degradation, land subsidence and earthquake and could disrupt food production/security and social stability. There is need for efficient water use strategies in North China, a pivotal agrarian, industrial and political base in China with a widespread WSD. This study integrates satellite, model and field data products to investigate WSD and land subsidence in North China. In the first step, GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) mass rates are used to show WSD in the region. Next, GRACE total water storage (TWS) is corrected for soil water storage (SWS) to derive groundwater storage (GWS) using GLDAS (Global Land Data Assimilation System) data products. The derived GWS is compared with GWS obtained from field-measured groundwater level to show land subsidence in the study area. Then GPS (Global Positioning System) data of relative land surface change (LSC) are used to confirm the subsidence due to WSD. A total of ~ 96 near-consecutive months (January 2002 through December 2009) of datasets are used in the study. Based on GRACE mass rates, TWS depletion is 23.76 ± 1.74 mm yr−1 or 13.73 ± 1.01 km3 yr−1 in the 578 000 km2 study area. This is ~ 31 % of the slated 45 km3 yr−1 water delivery in 2050 via the South–North Water Diversion Project. Analysis of relative LSC shows subsidence of 7.29 ± 0.35 mm yr−1 in Beijing and 2.74 ± 0.16 mm yr−1 in North China. About 11.53 % (2.74 ± 0.18 mm or 1.58 ± 0.12 km3) of the TWS and 8.37 % (1.52 ± 0.70 mm or 0.88 ± 0.03 km3) of the GWS are attributed to storage reductions accompanying subsidence in the region. Although interpretations of the findings require caution due to the short temporal and large spatial coverage, the concurrence of WSD and land subsidence could have adverse implications for the study area. It is critical that the relevant stakeholders embark on resource-efficient measures to ensure water availability, food security, ecological sustainability and social stability in this pivotal region.

Citation: Moiwo, J. P. and Tao, F.: Satellite signal shows storage-unloading subsidence in North China, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., 12, 6043-6075, doi:10.5194/hessd-12-6043-2015, 2015.
J. P. Moiwo and F. Tao
J. P. Moiwo and F. Tao


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Short summary
There has been excessive (surface and subsurface) water use in North China for several decades now. Why this has enhanced productivity, it has its environmental consequences. This study is a novel use of GRACE and various hydro-geodetic data in analyzing storage depletion subsidence in North China, which condition further reduces water storage. The concurrence of storage loss and land subsidence threatens social stability.
There has been excessive (surface and subsurface) water use in North China for several decades...