Journal of Geodesy

, Volume 89, Issue 2, pp 121–139 | Cite as

Assimilation of GRACE-derived oceanic mass distributions with a global ocean circulation model

  • J. SaynischEmail author
  • I. Bergmann-Wolf
  • M. Thomas
Original Article


To study the sub-seasonal distribution and generation of ocean mass anomalies, Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) observations of daily and monthly resolution are assimilated into a global ocean circulation model with an ensemble-based Kalman-Filter technique. The satellite gravimetry observations are processed to become time-variable fields of ocean mass distribution. Error budgets for the observations and the ocean model’s initial state are estimated which contain the full covariance information. The consistency of the presented approach is demonstrated by increased agreement between GRACE observations and the ocean model. Furthermore, the simulations are compared with independent observations from 54 bottom pressure recorders. The assimilation improves the agreement to high-latitude recorders by up to 2 hPa. The improvements are caused by assimilation-induced changes in the atmospheric wind forcing, i.e., quantities not directly observed by GRACE. Finally, the use of the developed Kalman-Filter approach as a destriping filter to remove artificial noise contaminating the GRACE observations is presented.


Data assimilation GRACE satellite gravimetry Time variant ocean mass distribution GRACE error estimation  Correction of atmospheric forcing 



We thank Lars Nerger for his insightful comments and the opportunity to use his Parallel Data Assimilation Framework. This study could not have been done without ERA-Interim data provided by the ECMWF, GRACE data from the ITG, the CSR, the JPL and the GFZ and the ocean bottom pressure recorder observations provided by Andreas Macrander. The model simulations are calculated at the German Climate Computing Center and the study was funded by the German Research Foundation, which is much appreciated.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Helmholtz Centre Potsdam GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences Earth System ModellingPotsdamGermany
  2. 2.Department of Earth Sciences, Institute of MeteorologyFreie Universität BerlinBerlinGermany

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