Seasonal changes in the European gravity field from GRACE: A comparison with superconducting gravimeters and hydrology model predictions

J. Hinderer, Ole Baltazar Andersen, F. Lemoine, D. Crossley, J.P. Boy

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    This paper is devoted to the investigation of seasonal changes of the Earth's gravity field from GRACE satellites and the comparison with surface gravity measurements in Europe from the Global Geodynamics Project (GGP) sub-network, as well as with recent hydrology models for continental soil moisture and snow. We used gravity maps in Europe retrieved from the initial GRACE monthly solutions spanning a 21 -month duration from April 2002 to December 2003 for various truncation levels of the initial spherical harmonic decomposition of the field. The transfer function between satellite-derived and ground gravity changes due to continental hydrology is studied and we also compute the theoretical ratio of gravity versus radial displacement (in mu Gal/mm) involved in the hydrological loading process. The 'mean' value (averaged in time and in space over Europe) from hydrologic forward modeling is found to be close to - 1.0 mu Gal/mm and we show that this value can be explained by a strong low degree (n = 5-6) peak in the hydrology amplitude spectrum. The dominant time-variable signal from GRACE is found to be annual with an amplitude and a phase both of which are in fair agreement with predictions in Europe from recent hydrology models. Initial results suggest that all three data sets (GRACE, hydrology and GGP) respond to annual changes in near-surface water in Europe of a few mu Gal (at length scales of - 1000 km) that show a high value in winter and a summer minimum. Despite the limited time span of our analysis and the uncertainties in separating purely local effects from regional ones in superconducting gravimeter data, the calibration and validation aspects of the GRACE data processing based on the annual hydrology cycle in Europe are in progress.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Geodynamics
    Issue number1-3
    Pages (from-to)59-68
    Publication statusPublished - 2006


    • hydrology
    • GGP
    • gravity field
    • GRACE
    • superconducting gravimeters


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