Groundwater Storage Anomalies

Groundwater storage variations with global coverage and monthly resolution displayed here are the results of the project Global Gravity-based Groundwater Product (G3P) . G3P has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement nº 870353. The purpose of G3P was to develop a prototype for a new Copernicus service. Accordingly, data presented here should be treated as such.

As terrestrial water storage (TWS), observed by GRACE/GRACE-FO, is the sum of the variations of several storage compartments including groundwater, a cross-cutting combination of TWS variations with other individual water storage variations based on the existing portfolio of the Copernicus services is applied. Accordingly, groundwater storage anomalies (relative to a long-term mean) are derived as follows:

groundwater = terrestrial water storage – soil moisture - glaciers - snow - surface water bodies

The individual quantities given in this equation as well as their uncertainties can be visualized by clicking on the respective name of a particular quantity next to the spatial plot, or by using the corresponding pulldown menu in the spatial plot. It is important to note that:

  • all storage products represent anomalies relative to the long-term mean over the period 2002/04 through 2020/12;
  • all the different storage anomalies are provided in terms of mm of equivalent water height;
  • the GRACE/GRACE-FO-based TWS anomalies are derived from the COST-G combined gravity field solutions ;
  • to match the spatial resolution of the necessarily filtered GRACE/GRACE-FO-based TWS anomalies, a Gaussian smoothing with 200 km filter radius is applied to the anomalies of all the other individual storage compartments.

The current version of the G3P prototype is v1.11. Gridded products as displayed in the spatial plot can be downloaded from GFZ’s ISDC archive in NetCDF format . Time series of averaged anomalies for certain regions in CSV format can be directly downloaded from this site by clicking on the download button above the time series plot. Use the corresponding pulldown menu in the spatial plot to select between the following types of predefined regions: aquifers, river basins or climatically similar regions (regions with similar precipitation properties). Click on the spatial plot to select a particular region.

A list of key references for the individual water storage compartments can be found further down.

Groundwater storage

Groundwater storage anomalies calculated by subtracting the aggregated and filtered (Gaussian smoothing with 200 km radius) storage variations for soil moisture, glaciers, snow, and surface water from the GRACE/GRACE-FO-based terrestrial water storage variations.

Groundwater storage uncertainty

Uncertainty estimates of the groundwater storage anomalies, calculated by error propagation of the individual uncertainties of terrestrial water storage, soil moisture, glaciers, snow, and surface water.

Soil moisture storage

Filtered soil moisture (SM) anomalies accounting for the water content in the first 2 meters of the soil column based on the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) Surface Soil Moisture data; C3S data are first gap-filled using the DCT-PLS algorithm, and then propagated via the exponential filter method to approximate SM beyond the surface layer, up to a maximum depth of 2 meters.

Soil moisture storage uncertainty

Uncertainty estimates of the filtered soil moisture (SM) anomalies computed by employing the law standard of uncertainty propagation adapted to the exponential filter method (i.e. accounting for its parameter and model structural uncertainties).

Glacier water storage

Filtered glacier mass anomalies; to obtain anomalies corresponding to a regular grid, an area transformation considering the glaciated area of each grid cell is applied; to reconvert to gridded glacier mass loss in units of Gt, the water height per grid cell needs to be multiplied by the total area of the grid cell; note that due to filtering, glacier mass is underestimated by about a 40% mainly caused by signal leakage into the ocean in coastal areas.

Glacier water storage uncertainty

Time-variable component of the uncertainty estimates for the filtered glacier mass anomalies; glacier mass change uncertainties are based on the inherited uncertainties from the glaciological and the geodetic input datasets and their variability, at a 95% confidence interval (1.96 std); uncertainty propagation considers the glaciated area of a grid cell and the number of independent observations; finally, to convert from specific mass balance uncertainties to water mass loss (Gt) and water height uncertainties (mm), an additional source of error related to the glacier area and area change rates are considered.

Snow water storage

Filtered snow water equivalent (SWE) anomalies; SWE is a measure for the amount of liquid water stored in a snowpack (corresponding to the resulting water column of a snowpack when completely melted), defined as the product of snow depth of the snow layer and its density.

Snow water storage uncertainty

Uncertainty estimates of the filtered snow water equivalent anomalies per grid point.

Surface water storage

Filtered surface water storage anomalies, based on the Copernicus Global Flood Awareness System (GloFAS) version 3.1; the underlying model to GloFAS is the global hydrological model Lisflood; the combined surface water storage comprises model output and state variables for river water storage, lake water storage and water storage in man-made reservoirs; due to limitations in spatial and temporal coverage, the observation-based surface water products further developed within G3P are not included in this prototype version; please refer to the public G3P project reports for further information.

Surface water storage uncertainty

Uncertainty estimates of the filtered surface water storage anomalies, based on an ensemble mean between Lisflood and the WaterGAP Global Hydrological Model (WGHM); the following steps are performed:
  1. Calculate delta between monthly time series of Lisflood and WGHM surface water storage anomalies for the period of 2002/04 through 2016/12,
  2. divide the time series of deltas by 2,
  3. subtract this new delta time series from the Lisflood anomaly time series and convert to absolute values to generate the uncertainty time series for the above period, and
  4. the climatology of the uncertainty values from 2002/04 to 2016/12 is calculated and applied to the period from 2017/01 to 2020/12 to complete the time series.

Terrestrial water storage

GRACE/GRACE-FO-based water mass anomalies representing the sum of all water storage compartments including soil moisture, glaciers, snow, surface water, and deep groundwater; not corrected for spatial leakage.

Terrestrial water storage uncertainty

Uncertainty estimates of the terrestrial water storage anomalies based on a spatial covariance model (Boergens et al., 2022) and global time-variable uncertainty estimates, given as standard deviation per grid point.


Andreas Güntner (andreas.guentner (at)

Citation of Data:

Güntner, Andreas; Sharifi, Ehsan; Behzadpour, Saniya; Boergens, Eva; Dahle, Christoph; Darbeheshti, Neda; Dobslaw, Henryk; Dorigo, Wouter; Dussailant, Inés; Flechtner, Frank; Haas, Julian; Jäggi, Adrian; Kidd, Richard; Kosmale, Miriam; Kvas, Andreas; Luojus, Kari; Mayer-Gürr, Torsten; Meyer, Ulrich; Pasik, Adam; Paul, Frank; Pedinotti, Vanessa; Preimesberger, Wolfgang; Ruz Vargas, Claudia; Vayre, Maxime; Zemp, Michael, 2023:
Global Gravity-based Groundwater Product (G3P). V. 1.11.
GFZ Data Services,


Soil moisture storage:

Dorigo, W. et al., 2017:
ESA CCI Soil Moisture for improved Earth system understanding: State-of-the art and future directions
Remote Sensing of Environment, 203, p. 185—215,

Glacier water storage:

Zemp, M., 2019:
Glacier monitoring tracks progress in limiting climate change
Nature, 576,

Snow water storage:

Luojus, K. et al., 2021:
GlobSnow v3.0 Northern Hemisphere snow water equivalent dataset
Sci Data, 8, 163,

Surface water storage:

Alfieri, L. et al., 2020:
A global streamflow reanalysis for 1980–2018
Journal of Hydrology, X, 6,

Terrestrial water storage:

Jäggi, A. et al., 2020:
International Combination Service for Time-Variable Gravity Fields (COST-G): Start of Operational Phase and Future Perspectives
In: International Association of Geodesy Symposia, Berlin, Heidelberg : Springer,

Boergens, E., Kvas, A., Eicker, A., Dobslaw, H., Schawohl, L., Dahle, C., Murböck, M., Flechtner, F., 2022:
Uncertainties of GRACE-Based Terrestrial Water Storage Anomalies for Arbitrary Averaging Regions
Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 127, 2, e2021JB022081,

Technical Note:
GFZ/COST-G GravIS Level-3 Products - Terrestrial Water Storage Anomalies