We explore the mechanisms whereby groundwater influences terrestrial water storage (TWS) in the Amazon using GRACE observations and two contrasting versions of the LEAF-Hydro-Flood hydrological model: one with and the other without an interactive groundwater. We find that, first, where the water table is shallow as in northwestern Amazonia and floodplains elsewhere, subsurface stores (vadose zone and groundwater) are nearly saturated year-round, hence river and flooding dominate TWS variation; where the water table is deep as in southeastern Amazonia, the large subsurface storage capacity holds the infiltrated water longer before releasing it to streams, hence the subsurface storage dominates TWS variation. Second, over the whole Amazon, the subsurface water contribution far exceeds surface water contribution to total TWS variations. Based on LEAF-Hydro-Flood simulations, 71% of TWS change is from subsurface water, 24% from flood water, and 5% from water in river channels. Third, the subsurface store includes two competing terms, soil water in the vadose zone and groundwater below the water table. As the water table rises, the length of vadose zone is shortened and hence the change in groundwater store is accompanied by an opposite change in soil water store resulting in their opposite phase and contributions to total TWS. We conclude that the inclusion of a prognostic groundwater store and its interactions with the vadose zone, rivers, and floodplains in hydrological simulations enhances seasonal amplitudes and delays seasonal peaks of TWS anomaly, leading to an improved agreement with GRACE observations.
- Terrestrial Water Storage