Susanna Werth


Dr. Susanna Werth is a geodesist / engineer specialized in satellite gravimetry, large-scale hydrology and water resource management. Her research interests are the time-dependent Earth and planetary gravity field, hydrology, terrestrial water cycle and resources management, interaction of the water, climate, environmental and human societies as well as signal processing. A main focus of her research is on monitoring, modeling and forecasting the Earth’s water mass budget variations using remote sensing data. This multifaceted research effort includes:

  • Enhancing techniques for monitoring water mass budget variations with a focus on gavity and deformation data;
  • Obtaining and analyzing large-scale estimates of temporal changes in continental water mass budget; and
  • Investigating impact of changes in water availability on environment, human societies as well as crisis management.

An overarching hypothesis in Dr. Werth’s research program is that more integrated knowledge of the water cycle would facilitate creative conjunctive use opportunities and stimulate the evolution of more efficient and sustainable water markets across the world.  She is working toward an integrated hydro-geodetic modeling framework that does not only allow for more detailed investigations of the impact of climate change and human water use on freshwater resources, but also the evaluation of the effectiveness and success of water management approaches.

Dr. Werth has received her Ph.D. at the University of Potsdam in German, for which she was supported by a scholarship from the German Research Center for Geosciences focusing on the integration of satellite gravimetry data into global hydrological modeling. After graduation, she worked as a post-doc at both institutions, which included hydrological and geophysical field campaigns to Spain and South Africa. Since a post-doc position at Arizona State University, Dr. Werth focuses her research on monitoring of large scale groundwater aquifers. And in 2015, she began building her own research and teaching program as research professor at the School of Earth and Space Exploration and the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning at the Arizona State University. She joined the Department of Geosciences at Virginia Tech in Summer 2020. Currently, she is member of NASA’s GRACE/FO Science Team working on data fusion of hydrologic and geodetic datasets to accurately map total water storage changes in the Southwest USA. She is also an active participant in the joint working group “Understanding the monsoon phenomenon from a geodetic perspective” of the Inter-Commission Committee on “Geodesy for Climate Research” at the International Association of Geodesy (IAG).



HydroGeodesy Lab

Recent Relevant Publications:

Google Scholar profile

Carlson, G.; Shirzaei, M.; Ojha, C.; Werth, S. (2020). Subsidence‐Derived Volumetric Strain Models for Mapping Extensional Fissures and Constraining Rock Mechanical Properties in the San Joaquin Valley, California. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 125(9), e2020JB019980, doi: 10.1029/2020JB019980.

Blackwell, E., Shirzaei, M., Ojha, C., & Werth, S. (2020). Tracking California’s sinking coast from space: Implications for relative sea-level rise. Science Advances, 6(31), eaba4551, doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aba4551.

Ojha, C., Werth, S., & Shirzaei, M. (2020). Recovery of aquifer-systems in Southwest US following 2012 – 2015 drought : Evidence from InSAR, GRACE and groundwater level data. Journal of Hydrology, 587(March), 124943, doi: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2020.124943.

Sherpa, F., Shirzaei, M., Ojha, C., Werth, S., & Hostache, R. (2020). Probabilistic Mapping of August 2018 Flood of Kerala , India , Using Space-borne Synthetic Aperture Radar. IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing, (August 2018), 1–10, doi: 10.1109/JSTARS.2020.2970337.

Carlson, G., Shirzaei, M., Werth, S., Zhai, G., & Ojha, C. (2020). Seasonal and Long‐Term Groundwater Unloading in the Central Valley Modifies Crustal Stress. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 125(1), 1–17, doi: 10.1029/2019JB018490.

Shirzaei, M., C. Ojha, S. Werth, G. Carlson, & E. R. Vivoni (2019), Comment on “Short-lived pause in Central California subsidence after heavy winter precipitation of 2017” by K. D. Murray and R. B. Lohman. Science Advances, 5, eaav8038, doi:10.1126/sciadv.aav8038.

Ojha, C., S. Werth, & M. Shirzaei (2019), Groundwater Loss and Aquifer System Compaction in San Joaquin Valley During 2012–2015 Drought. Journal of Geophysical Research – Solid Earth, 124, 3127–3143, doi:10.1029/2018JB016083.

Ojha, C., M. Shirzaei, S. Werth, D. F. Argus, & T. G. Farr (2018), Sustained Groundwater Loss in California’s Central Valley Exacerbated by Intense Drought Periods. Water Resources Research, 54(7), 4449-4460, doi:10.1029/2017WR022250.

Werth, S., D. White and D. W. Bliss (2017), GRACE Detected Rise of Groundwater in the Sahelian Niger River Basin, Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 122(12), 10459-10477, doi:10.1002/2017JB014845.