Methods for inferring regional surface-mass anomalies from Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) measurements of time-variable gravity

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Abstract

[1] The Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, GRACE, will deliver monthly averages of the spherical harmonic coefficients describing the Earth's gravity field, from which we expect to infer time-variable changes in mass, averaged over arbitrary regions having length scales of a few hundred kilometers and larger, to accuracies of better than 1 cm of equivalent water thickness. These data will be useful for examining changes in the distribution of water in the ocean, in snow and ice on polar ice sheets, and in continental water and snow storage. We describe methods of extracting regional mass anomalies from GRACE gravity coefficients. Spatial averaging kernels were created to isolate the gravity signal of individual regions while simultaneously minimizing the effects of GRACE observational errors and contamination from surrounding glacial, hydrological, and oceanic gravity signals. We then estimated the probable accuracy of averaging kernels for regions of arbitrary shape and size.

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