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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2019-230
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2019-230
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 21 May 2019

Research article | 21 May 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).

Inter-annual variability of the global terrestrial water cycle

Dongqin Yin1,2 and Michael L. Roderick1,2,3 Dongqin Yin and Michael L. Roderick
  • 1Research School of Earth Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, 2601, Australia
  • 2Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science, Canberra, ACT, 2601, Australia
  • 3Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes, Canberra, ACT, 2601, Australia

Abstract. Variability of the terrestrial water cycle, i.e., precipitation (P), evapotranspiration (E), runoff (Q) and water storage change (ΔS) is the key to understanding hydro-climate extremes. However, a comprehensive global assessment for the partitioning of variability in P between E, Q and ΔS is still not available. In this study, we use the recently released global monthly hydrologic reanalysis product known as the Climate Data Record (CDR) to conduct an initial investigation of the inter-annual variability of the global terrestrial water cycle. We first examine global patterns in partitioning the long-term mean P between the various sinks E, Q and ΔS and confirm the well-known patterns with P partitioned between E and Q according to the aridity index. In a new analysis based on the concept of variability source and sinks (Eq. 2) we then examine how variability in the precipitation σP2 (the source) is partitioned between the three variability sinks σE2, σQ2 and σΔS2 along with the three relevant covariance terms, and how that partitioning varies with the aridity index. We find that the partitioning of inter-annual variability does not simply follow the mean state partitioning, with σP2 mostly partitioned between σQ2, σΔS2 and the associated covariances. We also find that the magnitude of the covariance components can be large and often negative, indicating the variability in the sinks (e.g., σQ2, σΔS2) can, and do, exceed variability in the source (σP2). Further investigations under extreme conditions reveal that in extremely dry environments the variance partitioning is closely related to the water storage capacity. With limited storage capacity the partitioning of σP2 is mostly to σE2, but as the storage capacity increases the partitioning of σP2 is increasingly shared between σE2, σΔS2 and the covariance between those variables. In other environments (i.e., extremely wet and semi-arid/semi-humid) the variance partitioning proved to extremely complex and a synthesis was not developed. We anticipate that a major scientific effort will be needed to develop a synthesis of hydrologic variability.

Dongqin Yin and Michael L. Roderick
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Status: open (until 16 Jul 2019)
Status: open (until 16 Jul 2019)
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
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Dongqin Yin and Michael L. Roderick
Data sets

The Climate Data Record (CDR) for the global terrestrial water budget Y. Zhang, M. Pan, J. Sheffield, A. L. Siemann, C. K. Fisher, M. Liang, H. E. Beck, N. Wanders, R. F. MacCracken, P. R. Houser, T. Zhou, D. P. Lettenmaier, R. T. Pinker, J. Bytheway, C. D. Kummerow, and E. F. Wood https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-22-241-2018

NASA GEWEX Surface Radiation Budget P. W. Stackhouse, S. K. Gupta, S. J. Cox, T. Zhang, and J. C. Mikovitz https://doi.org/10.17616/R37R42

Global land air temperature dataset from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU TS4.01) I. Harris, P. D.Jones, T. J. Osborn, and D. H. Lister https://doi.org/10.1002/joc.3711

Global evapotranspiration database LandFluxEval B. Mueller, M. Hirschi, C. Jimenez, P. Ciais, P. A. Dirmeyer, A. J. Dolman, J. B. Fisher, M. Jung, F. Ludwig, F. Maignan, D. G. Miralles, M. F. McCabe, M. Reichstein, J. Sheffield, K. Wang, E. F. Wood, Y. Zhang, and S. I. Seneviratne https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-17-3707-2013

Global evapotranspiration database MPI M. Jung, M. Reichstein, P. Ciais, S. I. Seneviratne, J. Sheffield, M. L. Goulden, G. Bonan, A. Cescatti, J. Chen, R. de Jeu, A. J. Dolman, W. Eugster, D. Gerten, D. Gianelle, N. Gobron, J. Heinke, J. Kimball, B. E. Law, L. Montagnani, Q. Mu, B. Mueller, K. Oleson, D. Papale, A. D. Richardson, O. Roupsard, S. Running, E. Tomelleri, N. Viovy, U. Weber, C. Williams, E. Wood, S. Zaehle, and K. Zhang https://doi.org/10.1038/nature09396

Dongqin Yin and Michael L. Roderick
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Short summary
We focus on the initial analysis of inter-annual variability in the global terrestrial water cycle, which is the key to understanding hydro-climate extremes. We find that, 1) the partitioning of inter-annual variability is totally different with the mean state partitioning, 2) the magnitude of covariances can be large and negative, indicating the variability in the sinks can exceed variability in the source, 3) the partitioning is relevant to the water storage capacity and snow/ice presence.
We focus on the initial analysis of inter-annual variability in the global terrestrial water...
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