Time-Variable Gravity Field and Global Deformation of the Earth

  • Jürgen KuscheEmail author
Reference work entry


The analysis of the Earth’s time-variable gravity field and its changing patterns of deformation plays an important role in Earth system research. These two observables provide, for the first time, a direct measurement of the amount of mass that is redistributed at or near the surface of the Earth by oceanic and atmospheric circulation and through the hydrological cycle. In this chapter, we will first reconsider the relations between gravity and mass change. We will in particular discuss the role of the hypothetical surface mass change that is commonly used to facilitate the inversion of gravity change to density. Then, after a brief discussion of the elastic properties of the Earth, the relation between surface mass change and the three-dimensional deformation field is considered. Both types of observables are then discussed in the framework of inversion. None of our findings are entirely new; we merely aim at a systematic compilation and discuss some frequently made assumptions. Finally, some directions for future research are pointed out.


International GNSS Service Gravity Change Love Number Spherical Harmonic Coefficient Superconducting Gravimeter 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Astronomical, Physical and Mathematical Geodesy GroupBonn UniversityBonnGermany

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