Assessing groundwater storage changes using remote sensing-based evapotranspiration and precipitation at a large semiarid basin scale

M. Gokmen, Z. Vekerdy, M. Lubczynski, J. Timmermans, Okke Batelaan, W. Verhoef

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A method is presented that uses remote sensing (RS)-based evapotranspiration (ET) and precipitation estimates with improved accuracies under semiarid conditions to quantify a spatially distributed water balance, for analyzing groundwater storage changes due to supplementary water uses. The method is tested for the semiarid Konya basin (Turkey), one of the largest endorheic basins in the world. Based on the spatially distributed water balance estimation, the mean irrigation for croplands was 308 mm yr−1, which corresponds to a total reduction of 2270 million cubic meters per year (106 m3 yr−1, or MCM yr−1) in the groundwater storage during the study period 2005–09. The storage change estimated as the residual of the spatially distributed water balance was confirmed by the volume change calculated from groundwater table observations. To obtain an improved precipitation distribution, the monthly Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) rainfall product was assessed. After a bias removal, TRMM data were combined with the snow water equivalent estimated by a multivariate analysis using snow gauge observations, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) snow cover product, and the digital elevation model. With respect to the distribution of ET, the standard SEBS and the soil moisture integrated SEBS-SM models were compared; SEBS-SM proved to better reflect the water-limited evapotranspiration regime of semiarid regions. The RS-based distributed water balance calculation as presented in this study can be applied in other large basins, especially in semiarid and arid regions. It is capable of estimating spatially distributed water balances and storage changes, which otherwise, by ground-based point measurements, would not be feasible
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)1733-1753
JournalJournal of hydrometeorology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • METIS-299180
  • IR-89774

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