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Meixia Lv, Zhuguo Ma, and Naiming Yuan


This study investigated the attribution of terrestrial water storage (TWS) variations across China to changes in groundwater and human water use. As one vital storage component, the groundwater storage (GWS) derived from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) mass concentration solution compared reasonably well with the in situ groundwater table depth, with the correlation coefficients ranging from −0.83 to −0.18, all of which were statistically significant at the 95% confidence level. About 71% of the trends in derived GWS had the same sign as those of observations, without systematic deviation, across China. The GWS variation contributed a large portion of the TWS trend in most regions of China, and the majority of contribution values reached 50%–150% in the Hai River basin, the Loess Plateau, and the middle portion of the Yangtze River basin. The dominant role of GWS is closely related to the detected long-term “memories” in both TWS and GWS. The increase of irrigation consumption accelerated the TWS depletion trend by 13.4% in the Huai River basin, while the decrease of consumptive agricultural water use alleviated the TWS decline rate by 4.1% in the Hai River basin. Importantly, the correlation coefficients reached 0.74–0.95 between the TWS change and the residual of precipitation, evapotranspiration, flow into the sea, and irrigation consumption in the four river basins of particular interest. The findings of this study are helpful for understanding regional water cycles in China.

Open access
Meixia Lv, Zhuguo Ma, Liang Chen, and Shaoming Peng


The accurate estimation of evapotranspiration (ET) is essential for understanding the land surface–atmosphere interaction; however, current ET products have large uncertainties, and irrigation effects on ET are not well represented. In this study, the monthly ET was reconstructed (ETrecon) from GLDAS land surface models (LSMs) over the Yellow River basin of China, which was achieved by using observation-based precipitation, naturalized streamflow, and downscaled consumed irrigation water from the census annual data via an irrigation scheme. The results showed that the monthly ETrecon series were generally improved relative to the original LSM-based ET, with improvements in the correlation coefficient, Nash–Sutcliffe efficiency, mean absolute error, and root-mean-square error by 0.6%–1.8%, 1.2%–14.6%, 1.3%–21.0%, and 2.1%–20.4%, respectively. The ETrecon results were also superior to the collected ET synthesis products in terms of statistics, with generally higher peak values occurring in ETrecon. Regarding the annual time scale, the ETrecon values were close to the water balance ET values, which have been widely used as benchmark data. The interannual variability in ETrecon was good overall and was associated with the LSM precipitation variability and partitioning of precipitation into ET and runoff. The reconstruction method can provide an alternative ET estimate for other river basins. This study will also be valuable for studies and applications in climate change evaluation, drought assessment, and water resources management.

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Mingxing Li, Peili Wu, Zhuguo Ma, Meixia Lv, and Qing Yang


Variability in soil moisture has implications for regional terrestrial environments under a warming climate. This paper focuses on the spatiotemporal variability in the intra-annual persistence of soil moisture in China using the fifth-generation reanalysis dataset by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts for the period 1979–2018. The results show that in China, the mean intra-annual persistence in the humid to arid zones increased from 60 to 115 days in the lower layer but decreased from 19 to 13 days and from 25 to 14 days in the upper and root layers, respectively. However, these changes were strongly attenuated in extremely dry and wet regions due to the scarcity of soil moisture anomalies. Large changes in persistence occurred in the lower soil layer in dryland areas, with a mean difference of up to 40 days between the 2010s and the 1980s. Overall increasing trends dominated the large-scale spatial features, despite regional decreases in the eastern arid zone and the North and Northeast China plains. In the root layer, the two plains experienced an expanded decrease while on the Tibetan Plateau it was dominated by decadal variability. These contrasting changes between the lower and root layers along the periphery of the transition zone was a reflection of the enhanced soil hydrological cycle in the root layer. The enhanced persistence in drylands lower layer is an indication of the intensified impacts of soil moisture anomalies (e.g., droughts) on terrestrial water cycle. These findings may help the understanding of climate change impacts on terrestrial environments.

Open access