Terrestrial Water Storage In 2023: A Review

Earlier this month, Nature Reviews Earth & Environment released their annual Climate Chronicles, a collection of their ‘Year in Review’ articles. In these pieces, leading experts outline the observed characteristics and changes to select climate metrics and policies over the course of the year, collectively documenting the state of the climate and its ongoing evolution.


ESSIC scientist Bailing Li is the lead author on terrestrial water storage, the total of all water on the land surface including soil moisture, groundwater, snow, ice, river and lake water, and vegetation water content.


Li wrote that the global terrestrial water storage anomalies reached a record low of -9.94 cm in 2023,decreasing 0.80 cm from 2022. These reductions largely reflect ongoing terrestrial water storage losses from glacial melt and groundwater use for irrigation, offset by gains in central and eastern Antarctica and La Niña-related tropical wetting. Of the –9.94 cm anomaly in 2023, –10.20 cm is contributed by anthropogenic factors, offset by +0.26 cm from natural factors.


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.


To access the article, click here: Terrestrial water storage in 2023.