Gravity Anomalies from Retracked ERS and Geosat Altimetry over the Great Lakes: Accuracy Assessment and Problems

  • Author(s): Robert Kingdon, Cheinway Hwang, Yu-Shen Hsiao, and Marcelo Santos
  • DOI: 10.3319/TAO.2008.19.1-2.83(SA)
  • Keywords: Satellite altimetry Gravity anomaly Geology Geodynamics
  • Citation: Kingdon, R., C. Hwang, Y. S. Hsiao, and M. Santos, 2008: Gravity anomalies from retracked ERS and Geosat altimetry over the Great Lakes: Accuracy assessment and problems. Terr. Atmos. Ocean. Sci., 19, 93-101, doi: 10.3319/TAO.2008.19.1-2.93(SA)

Lake waters are a useful area for investigating the response of the Earth's gravity field to topographical density variations, since lake beds represent large density contrasts between water and rock. However, our ability to investigate relations between lake bathymetry and gravity field effects is limited because of relatively sparse gravity data coverage over most lake surfaces, and the inability of satellite-derived gravity fields to capture the high frequency response to density effects. Satellite altimetry may provide an alternate method to determine a dense gravity field at surfaces of large inland lakes. We calculate satellite altimetry derived free-air (FA) anomalies over the Great Lakes in Canada, and evaluate them in terms of resolution and accuracy. The anomalies are compared to those calculated from the GRACE-derived EIGEN-GL04C gravity field to test for bias, and from shipborne or airborne results (where available) to test the accuracy of their determination of the high frequency component of the gravity field. Our results show that accuracies may reach less than 10 mgal, both in terms of bias and higher frequency effects, but are often tens of milligals. Furthermore, we find that altimetry does provide a higher resolution gravity field than satellite-derived gravity fields, and so if the accuracy can be improved in later efforts, it will be a useful tool for investigations of topographical density effects of lake waters.

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