Bailing Li Is Lead Author on a Top Downloaded Paper in Wiley

A graph depicting the groundwater wetness percentile across Earth land

A study led by ESSIC Assistant Research Scientist Bailing Li was one of the most downloaded papers in the recent publication history of Wiley.  The paper, titled “Global GRACE Data Assimilation for Groundwater and Drought Monitoring: Advances and Challenges” and published in Water Resources Research, is among the top 10% most downloaded papers between January 2018 and December 2019.


The study employed nearly 4,000 in situ wells from five continents for evaluation and provided convincing evidence that the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) mission detected groundwater storage changes and that assimilation of GRACE data into a hydrological model helps improve groundwater estimates and drought detection.  Based on this study, near-real time global drought indicators including a groundwater drought indicator have been developed and made available at the US Drought Monitor (see the attached image and also at:


Co-authors of the paper include ESSIC Associate Research Scientist Augusto Getirana, Post-doctoral Associate Natthachet Tangdamrongsub, Faculty Specialist Hiroko Kato Beaudoing,  scientists from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and other researchers from Belgium, Chad, India, Uganda, and more.


Li’s research interests are in the area of understanding temporal and spatial variabilities of subsurface processes (soil moisture and groundwater) and their relationship with climate using output from numerical models, in situ and satellite data.  Her current work focuses on applying GRACE derived terrestrial water storage for improving modeled groundwater and enhancing drought monitoring.


Details on the evaluation results and where to download global groundwater storage estimates and drought indicators derived from the GRACE assimilation simulation  can be found in the paper at