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The benefit of EIGEN gravity field models for altimetry and vice versa

Frank Flechtner(1) , Roland Schmidt(1) , Ulrich Meyer(1) , Thilo Schoene(1) , Saskia Esselborn(1) , Christoph Foerste(1) , Richard Stubenvoll(1) , Rolf Koenig(1) , Hans Neumayer(1) , and Markus Rothacher(1)

(1) GFZ Potsdam, Muenchner Str. 20, D-82234 Wessling, Germany

Abstract

Unique data from modern satellite gravity missions such as CHAMP and GRACE have revolutionized the determination of global gravity field models from space. In particular GRACE has propelled satellite-only global gravity models with respect to resolution and accuracy including the access to the variations of the Earth's gravity field at monthly time-scales.

The impact of such models on satellite altimetry is threefold. First, accurate gravity models are a prerequisite for precise orbit determination of altimeter satellites at or below the noise level of the altimeter instruments. Second, the novel models provide an independent, cm-precise geoid at unprecedent spatial resolutions to be used for the determination of sea surface topography from the altimeter data and consistent orbits. Third, time series of highly-accurate global gravity models together with altimetry are expected to give insight into the separation of mass and steric components of the oceans surface. On the other hand, gravity information derived from satellite altimetry is still an invaluable input for the generation of high-resolution gravity models based on the combination of satellite, terrestrial and altimeter-derived gravity data.

At GFZ Potsdam, CHAMP- and GRACE-based as well as combined static and time-variable global gravity models of high resolution are routinely processed in the frame work of the EIGEN processing activities (EIGEN = European Improved Gravity model of the Earth by New techniques). This contribution presents latest results of a new gravity model product generation labeled EIGEN-04, which is mainly based on a recent reprocessing of CHAMP and GRACE data.

 

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                 Last modified: 07.10.03