Monthly (71 months) Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) gravity field solutions acquired over North and Central Africa (August 2002–July 2008) were destriped, smoothed (250 km; Gaussian), and converted to equivalent water thickness. These data were analyzed in a geographic information system environment together with relevant data sets (e.g., topography, geology, remote sensing) to assess the utility of GRACE for monitoring elements of hydrologic systems on local scales. The following were observed over the Niger, Congo, and Nile Basins: (1) large persistent anomalies (standard deviation, SD > 10 cm) on SD images over periods of 2–7 yr; (2) anomalous areas originate at mountainous source areas that receive high precipitation, extend downslope toward mountain foothills, and often continue along main channels, wetlands, or lakes that drain these areas; (3) time-series analyses over anomalous areas showed that seasonal mass variation lags behind seasonal precipitation; and (4) seasonal mass variations showed progressive shift in phase and decrease in amplitude with distance from the mountainous source areas. Results indicate that (1) the observed temporal mass variations are largely controlled by elements of the hydrologic cycle (e.g., runoff, infiltration, groundwater flow) and have not been obscured by noise, as previously thought; and (2) it is possible to use GRACE to investigate the temporal local responses of a much larger suite of hydrologic systems (watersheds, lakes, rivers, and marshes) and domains (source areas and lowlands) within watersheds and subbasins worldwide.

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