Expected improvements in determining continental hydrology, ice mass variations, ocean bottom pressure signals, and earthquakes using two pairs of dedicated satellites for temporal gravity recovery

The Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment mission has demonstrated the ability to quantify global mass variations at large spatial scales with monthly to sub-monthly temporal resolution. Future missions of this type taking advantage of improved measurement technologies will be limited by temporal aliasing errors. We suggest the addition of a second pair of satellites to reduce these errors. Using an optimized mission architecture consisting of a polar pair of satellites coupled with a lower inclined pair of satellites (72\textdegree), both in 13-day repeating orbits, we quantify the expected scientific improvements that having two pairs of satellites will provide over one pair. Numerical simulations to spherical harmonic degree 100 are run over one full year. Analysis using empirical orthogonal functions reveals that two satellite pairs determine annual mass variations in small basins which are undetected using one pair of satellites. Averaging kernels are used to show that two satellite pairs offer an 80\% reduction in the level of error in determining mass variations in 53 hydrological basins and 12 Greenland basins over the year. After standard GRACE post-processing techniques have been applied to the one-pair solutions, it is seen that two satellite pairs (with no post-processing) still offer a 25\%\textendash75\% improvement in determining the mass variations. Spatiospectral localization analysis is used to show increased spatial resolution and higher signal-to-noise ratios in recovering hydrology in the Amazon River basin, ocean bottom pressure signals in the Southeast Pacific basin, and a simulated earthquake signal representative of the 2010 Maule, Chile earthquake.
Year of Publication
Journal of Geophysical Research
Date Published
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