Combining EGM2008 and SRTM/DTM2006.0 residual terrain model data to improve quasigeoid computations in mountainous areas devoid of gravity data
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A global geopotential model, like EGM2008, is not capable of representing the high-frequency components of Earth?s gravity field. This is known as the omission error. In mountainous terrain, omission errors in EGM2008, even when expanded to degree 2,190, may reach amplitudes of10cm and more for height anomalies. The present paper proposes the utilisation of high-resolution residual terrain model (RTM) data for computing estimates of the omission error in rugged terrain. RTM elevations may be constructed as the difference between the SRTM (Shuttle Radar Topography Mission) elevation model and the DTM2006.0 spherical harmonic topographic expansion. Numerical tests, carried out in the German Alps with a precise gravimetric quasigeoid model (GCG05) and GPS/levelling data as references, demonstrate that RTM-based omission error estimatesimprove EGM2008 height anomaly differences by 10cm in many cases. The comparisons of EGM2008-only height anomalies and the GCG05 model showed 3.7 cm standard deviation after a bias-fit. Applying RTM omission error estimates to EGM2008 reduces the standard deviation to 1.9 cm which equates to a significant improvement rate of 47%. Using GPS/levelling data strongly corroborates thesefindings with an improvement rate of 49%. The proposed RTM approach may be of practical value to improve quasigeoid determination in mountainous areas without sufficient regional gravity data coverage, e.g., in parts of Asia, South America or Africa. As a further application, RTMomission error estimates will allow refined validation of global gravity field models like EGM2008 from GPS/levelling data.
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