Journal of Earth Science & Climatic Change
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The Central Valley aquifer is a vital economic and environmental resource for California and the United States, and supplies
water for one of the most agriculturally productive regions in the world. Recent estimates of groundwater availability in
California have indicated declines in groundwater levels that may pose a threat to sustainability this region. Climate variability
poses an additional challenge to this region, altering groundwater recharge and influencing pumping practices. The Gravity
Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) provides total water storage (TWS) anomalies and understanding the effects of
climate variability, such as the El Ni?o Southern Oscillation (ENSO), may improve GRACE-derived estimates of groundwater
availability during periods of increased rain or droughts. To understand the effects of the ENSO oscillation on groundwater
storage in the Central Valley, we first downscaled the GRACE data to the groundwater basin level using in-situ groundwater level
data and a hydrological model provided by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR). Additionally, we assessed the
effects of ENSO on GRACE-derived groundwater storage estimates, and groundwater elevations in the Central Valley aquifer
using singular spectral analysis (SSA) and wavelet analysis. Results from SSA and wavelet analysis indicate variations in water
availability similar to the 2−7 year ENSO periodicity. The incorporation of these new methods for estimating variations in
groundwater storage in highly productive aquifers may improve water management techniques in California.
Amber Jean Kuss is currently the Assistant Center Lead for the NASA Ames DEVELOP Program, and has been with the program since summer
of 2010. Ms. Kuss has been the team lead for a research project using GRACE satellite data for estimating changes in groundwater storage
in the Central Valley aquifer. Ms.Kuss received her B.S. in Geology from the College of Charleston, and her M.Sc. in Geosciences from San
Francisco State University. Ms. Kuss also has experience as Staff Geologist for Environmental Resources Management (ERM) and as a lecturer for
Oceanography at San Francisco State University.
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