Encyclopedia of Sustainability Science and Technology

2012 Edition
| Editors: Robert A. Meyers

Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE): Detection of Ice Mass Loss, Terrestrial Mass Changes, and Ocean Mass Gains

  • Victor Zlotnicki
  • Srinivas Bettadpur
  • Felix W. Landerer
  • Michael M. Watkins
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-0851-3_745

Definition of the Subject and Its Importance

The gravity field of the Earth, caused by the distribution of masses inside and on the surface of the Earth, changes in time due to the redistribution of mass. Such mass fluxes can be due both to natural processes (such as the seasonal water cycle, ocean dynamics, or atmospheric variations), as well as due to human actions, such as the systematic withdrawal of groundwater for human consumption. The ability to measure such changes globally is of great significance for understanding the environmental dimension of sustainability.

Until the launch of the GRACE satellite pair in 2002, such time changes in mass redistribution could only be measured globally as time changes in the longest wavelengths of the gravity field, on the order of 10,000 km and longer, from the orbit perturbations of artificial Earth satellites, or very locally at individual points on the Earth using long-term gravimeter deployments.

The GRACE satellite pair has provided the...

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This work was performed in part at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and at the Center for Space Research, University of Texas-Austin. Copyright 2011 California Institute of Technology.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Victor Zlotnicki
    • 1
  • Srinivas Bettadpur
    • 3
  • Felix W. Landerer
    • 2
  • Michael M. Watkins
    • 4
  1. 1.Climate, Oceans and Solid Earth Science SectionJet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of TechnologyPasadenaUSA
  2. 2.Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of TechnologyPasadenaUSA
  3. 3.Center for Space Research, University of Texas-AustinAustinUSA
  4. 4.Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of TechnologyPasadenaUSA