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A comparative study of available water in the major river basins of the world

Lakshmi, Venkat, Fayne, Jessica, Bolten, John
Journal of hydrology 2018 v.567 pp. 510-532
climate, evapotranspiration, hydrodynamics, hydrologic cycle, models, moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer, normalized difference vegetation index, rain, rain gauges, rivers, runoff, satellites, soil water, streams, water management, water storage, watersheds
Numerous large river basins of the world have few and irregular observations of the components of the terrestrial hydrological cycle with the exception of stream gauges at a few locations and at the outlet along with sparsely distributed rain gauges. Using observations from satellite sensors and output from global land surface models, it is possible to study these under-observed river basins. With populations greater than a billion people, some of these rivers (e.g., the Ganga-Brahmaputra, the Yangtze, the Nile and the Mekong) are the economic engines of the countries they transect, yet thorough assessment of their flow dynamics and variability in regard to water resource management is still lacking. In this paper, we use soil moisture (0–2 m) and surface runoff from the NASA Global Land Data Assimilation System (GLDAS), evapotranspiration, and Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and rainfall from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) and total water storage anomaly from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) to examine variability of individual water balance components. To this end, understanding the inter-annual and intra-seasonal variability and the spatial variability of the water balance components in the major river basins of the world will help to plan for improved management of water resources for the future.