This study evaluates the performance of two widely used GRACE solutions (CNES/GRGS RL02 and CSR RL04) in deriving annual and inter-annual water mass variations in the Black Sea for the period 2003–2007. It is demonstrated that the GRACE derived water mass variations in the Black Sea are heavily influenced by the leakage of hydrological signals from the surrounding land. After applying the corresponding correction, we found a good agreement with water mass variations derived from steric-corrected satellite altimetry observations. Both GRACE and altimetry show significant annual water mass variations of roughly 7 cm amplitude peaking in May and a semi-annual signal of roughly 3 cm peaking in June and in December. The amplitude of the annual water mass signal varies significantly from year to year and is significantly larger during 2004–2006 than in 2003 and 2007. This is also in agreement with the steric corrected altimetry.
Journal of Geodesy, 2011, Vol 85, Issue 2, p. 119-127