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The updated ESA Earth System Model for future gravity mission simulation studies


A new synthetic model of the time-variable global gravity field is now available based on realistic mass variability in atmosphere, oceans, terrestrial water storage, continental ice-sheets, and the solid Earth. The updated ESA Earth System Model is provided in Stokes coefficients up to degree and order 180 with a temporal resolution of 6 h covering the time period 1995–2006, and can be readily applied as a source model in future gravity mission simulation studies. The model contains plausible variability and trends in both low-degree coefficients and the global mean eustatic sea level. It depicts reasonable mass variability all over the globe at a wide range of frequencies including multi-year trends, year-to-year variability, and seasonal variability even at very fine spatial scales, which is important for a realistic representation of spatial aliasing and leakage. In particular on these small spatial scales between 50 and 250 km, the model contains a range of signals that have not been reliably observed yet by satellite gravimetry. In addition, the updated Earth System Model provides substantial high-frequency variability at periods down to a few hours only, thereby allowing to critically test strategies for the minimization of temporal aliasing.

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This study was performed under contract No. 4000109421 with the European Space Agency (ESA). We thank M. R. van den Broeke for providing output of RACMO2. We also thank Deutscher Wetterdienst, Offenbach, Germany, and the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, Reading, UK, for providing data from ECMWF’s latest re-analysis ERA-Interim. Numerical simulations were performed at Deutsches Klimarechenzentrum, Hamburg, Germany.

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Correspondence to Henryk Dobslaw.

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Dobslaw, H., Bergmann-Wolf, I., Dill, R. et al. The updated ESA Earth System Model for future gravity mission simulation studies. J Geod 89, 505–513 (2015).

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  • Time-variable gravity field
  • Future satellite gravity missions