Ellipsoidal area mean gravity anomalies - precise computation of gravity anomaly reference fields for remove-compute-restore geoid determination
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Gravity anomaly reference fields, required e.g. in remove-compute-restore (RCR) geoid computation, are obtained from global geopotential models (GGM) through harmonic synthesis. Usually, the gravity anomalies are computed as point values or area mean values in spherical approximation, or point values in ellipsoidal approximation. The present study proposes a method for computation of area mean gravity anomalies in ellipsoidal approximation ('ellipsoidal area means') by applying a simple ellipsoidal correction to area means in spherical approximation. Ellipsoidal area means offer better consistency with GGM quasi/geoid heights. The method is numerically validated with ellipsoidal area mean gravity derived from very fine grids of gravity point values in ellipsoidal approximation. Signal strengths of (i) the ellipsoidal effect (i.e., difference ellipsoidal vs. spherical approximation), (ii) the area mean effect (i.e., difference area mean vs. point gravity) and (iii) the ellipsoidal area mean effect (i.e., differences between ellipsoidal area means and point gravity in spherical approximation) are investigated in test areas in New Zealand and the Himalaya mountains. The impact of both the area mean and the ellipsoidal effect on quasigeoid heights is in the order of several centimetres. The proposed new gravity data type not only allows more accurate RCR-based geoid computation, but may also be of some value for the GGM validation using terrestrial gravity anomalies that are available as area mean values.
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