Stacked global satellite gravity profiles

Yale, MM, Sandwell DT.  1999.  Stacked global satellite gravity profiles. Geophysics. 64:1748-1755.

Date Published:



altimeter data, ers-1, field, geodetic mission, geosat, marine gravity, mean sea-surface, resolution


Gravity field recovery from satellite altimetry provides global marine coverage but lacks the accuracy and resolution needed for many exploration geophysics studies. The repeating ground tracks of the ERS-1/2, Geosat, and Topex/Poseidon altimeters offer the possibility of improving the accuracy and resolution of gravity anomalies along widely spaced (similar to 40-km spacing) tracks. However, complete ocean coverage is usually needed to convert the sea-surface height (br along-track slope) measurements into gravity anomalies. Here we develop and test a method for constructing stacked gravity profiles by using a published global gravity grid (Sandwell and Smith, 1997), V7.2, as a reference model for the slope-to-gravity anomaly conversion. The method is applied to stacks (averages) of Geosat/ERM (up to 62 cycles), ERS-1/2 (up to 43 cycles), and Topex (up to 142 cycles) satellite altimeter profiles. We assess the accuracies of the ERS-1/2 profiles through a comparison with a gravity model of the northern Gulf of Mexico (profiles provided by EDCON Inc.). The 40 ERS profiles evaluated have a mean rms difference of 3.77 mGal and full wavelength resolution (0.5 coherence) of 24 km. Our processing retains wavelengths as short as 10 km so smaller, large-amplitude features can be resolved, especially in shallow ocean areas (<1000 m deep). We provide an example of combining these higher resolution profiles with lower resolution gravity data in the Caspian Sea.