Improvements to satellite global gravity field modelling

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University of New Brunswick


Modelling the gravity field of the Earth is important for many scientific disciplines. Global gravity models allow for the investigation of long-wavelength properties of the gravity field. Global models derived from satellite observations provide an additional benefit: they are uncorrelated with any error contaminating regional terrestrial gravity information; this makes them ideal for combination with terrestrial gravity data in order to formulate high-precision regional geoid models. This dissertation investigates several possible areas of improvement to both the formulation and evaluation of satellite-only global gravity models. The first major barrier is due to what is known to the geodetic community as the “polar-gap problem”: the lack of data collected by the satellites over the poles due to the inclination angle of their orbit. The second is the rigorous application of these models inside of the topographical masses (and most pertinent, on the surface of the geoid). These problems are addressed in three articles. The first presents a mathematical tool that can be used in order to address the polar-gap problem by performing the global integration making use of the additivity property of Riemann integrals. The second article presents a computational scheme that allows for the evaluation of various quantities derived from global gravity models inside the topographical masses. Finally, the third article describes the production and validation of a 2D global topographical density model that is required for the rigorous evaluation of the gravity field as prescribed in the second article.