Atmospheric Effects on Gravity Space Missions
The varying atmosphere exerts two disturbing forces on the gravity signal: first the so-called direct effect or Newtonian attraction, where the object in questions is attracted by the atmospheric mass itself; and second the indirect effect or atmospheric loading, where the overlying atmospheric mass has a deforming effect on the Earth’s surface, also changing the measured gravity signal. In satellite gravity missions, these short-period signals cause aliasing effects in the gravity field determination and their elimination is indispensable. For the determination of the required atmospheric gravity field coefficients, it is state of the art to use high-resolution numerical weather models, which take into account the three-dimensional distribution of the atmospheric mass. In this part of the book, we address many relevant issues, including the theoretical fundamentals of the Earth’s gravity field and its description using spherical harmonics, as well as the basics of the atmospheric pressure distribution. A short overview of the gravity satellite missions of the last decade like GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) is given and the impact of the atmosphere on the satellite measurements is examined. We present a descriptions of the oceanic mass response to overlying atmospheric pressure and of the models used for de-aliasing of atmospheric effects.
KeywordsGravity Field Spherical Harmonic Vertical Integration Gravity Acceleration Geoid Height
We greatly acknowledge Frank Flechtner for reviewing this part of the book. Furthermore, we would like to thank the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) for supporting project GGOS Atmosphere (P20902) and the ECMWF for providing the meteorological data.
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