Earth System Data Records of Mass Transport from Time-Variable Gravity Data

Wednesday, 17 December 2014: 4:00 PM
Victor Zlotnicki1, Matthieu Talpe2, R Steven Nerem3, Felix W Landerer4 and Michael M Watkins1, (1)NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, United States, (2)CU Boulder, Boulder, CO, United States, (3)Univ of CO-Aerospace Egrg Sci, Boulder, CO, United States, (4)Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, United States
Satellite measurements of time variable gravity have revolutionized the study of Earth, by measuring the ice losses of Greenland, Antarctica and land glaciers, changes in groundwater including unsustainable losses due to extraction of groundwater, the mass and currents of the oceans and their redistribution during El Niño events, among other findings. Satellite measurements of gravity have been made primarily by four techniques: satellite tracking from land stations using either lasers or Doppler radio systems, satellite positioning by GNSS/GPS, satellite to satellite tracking over distances of a few hundred km using microwaves, and through a gravity gradiometer (radar altimeters also measure the gravity field, but over the oceans only). We discuss the challenges in the measurement of gravity by different instruments, especially time-variable gravity. A special concern is how to bridge a possible gap in time between the end of life of the current GRACE satellite pair, launched in 2002, and a future GRACE Follow-On pair to be launched in 2017. One challenge in combining data from different measurement systems consists of their different spatial and temporal resolutions and the different ways in which they alias short time scale signals. Typically satellite measurements of gravity are expressed in spherical harmonic coefficients (although expansions in terms of ‘mascons’, the masses of small spherical caps, has certain advantages). Taking advantage of correlations among spherical harmonic coefficients described by empirical orthogonal functions and derived from GRACE data it is possible to localize the otherwise coarse spatial resolution of the laser and Doppler derived gravity models. This presentation discusses the issues facing a climate data record of time variable mass flux using these different data sources, including its validation.