Model-coupled GRACE-based analysis of hydrological dynamics of drying Lake Urmia and its basin

Khorrami B., Ali S., Sahin O. G., Gunduz O.

Hydrological Processes, vol.37, no.5, 2023 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 37 Issue: 5
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1002/hyp.14893
  • Journal Name: Hydrological Processes
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Aerospace Database, Aqualine, Aquatic Science & Fisheries Abstracts (ASFA), Artic & Antarctic Regions, CAB Abstracts, Communication Abstracts, Compendex, Environment Index, Geobase, INSPEC, Metadex, Pollution Abstracts, Veterinary Science Database, Civil Engineering Abstracts
  • Keywords: desiccation, gap filling, GRACE, Lake Urmia basin, seasonal-trend decomposition using LOESS, terrestrial water storage
  • Dokuz Eylül University Affiliated: Yes


Lake Urmia basin (LUB), in northwestern Iran, is under the influence of extreme degradation due to a number of natural and anthropogenic factors. The existence of the Lake is critical for the microclimate of the region as well as the quality of human life and wildlife, which necessitates an up-to-date and holistic analysis of its hydrological dynamics. In this premise, satellite-based terrestrial water storage (TWS) received from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) mission was coupled with hydrometeorological modelling and assessment tools to analyse the hydrological status of the lake and its basin. As a new gap-filling approach, the Seasonal-Trend decomposition using Locally estimated scatterplot smoothing (LOESS) (STL) decomposition technique was proposed in this study to reconstruct the missing TWS data. Integrating satellite precipitation data with the Catchment Land Surface Model (CLSM) and WaterGAP model outputs, the hydrological status of the lake was investigated. The STL-based TWS turned out to concord well with the simulated TWS from the CLSM indicating the acceptable performance of the proposed technique. The findings revealed that the LUB had undergone an alarming hydrological situation from 2003 to 2021 with a total loss of (Formula presented.) and (Formula presented.) from its TWS and groundwater storage (GWS), respectively. The water level time series also indicated that the water level of the lake had diminished with an annual rate of (Formula presented.) corresponding to a total water level depletion of about (Formula presented.) during the 2003–2021 period. The GRACE-derived TWS and GWS also agreed well with the CLSM simulations. Assessment of the extreme events of the LUB suggested that the basin suffered from a severe dry event in 2008 resulting in the depletion of its water storage and water level. It was also found that from 2003 onward, a critical hydrological setting had dominated the LUB with a negative hydrological balance of (Formula presented.).