Downscaling Vertical GPS Observations to Derive Watershed-Scale Hydrologic Loading in the Northern Rockies

E. Knappe, R. Bendick, H. R. Martens, D. F. Argus, W. P. Gardner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


GPS time series of vertical displacement include the elastic response of the Earth to a combination of regional and local loading signals arising from hydrologic mass transfer. The regional loading, controlled by seasonal, synoptic precipitation patterns, dominates the displacement of individual stations and is highly correlated among stations with separation distances from 10 to 300 km. The local loading, controlled by small-scale precipitation and storage variability, has much shorter correlation lengths of <30 km. We develop a new method to separate the regional and local contributions using common mode analysis and show that GPS is capable of measuring the local hydrologic load changes at watershed scales of tens of kilometers. Using this methodology, GPS-measured displacement provides an integrated measurement of hydrologic load at a spatial scale between the existing long-wavelength resolution of the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment and point measurement resolution of a precipitation station. Thus, GPS time series record critical observations for monitoring integrated hydrologic budgets at scales useful for water management and assessment of the hydro-ecological response to climate change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)391-401
Number of pages11
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2019


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