Marine gravity determined from multi-satellite GM/ERM altimeter data over the South China Sea: SCSGA V1.0

Chengcheng Zhu, Jinyun Guo*, Jinyao Gao, Xin Liu, Cheinway Hwang, Shengwen Yu, Jiajia Yuan, Bing Ji, Bin Guan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


High-precision and high-resolution gravity fields can be derived from multi-source satellite altimeter data. A gravity anomaly model around the South China Sea (SCSGA) V1.0 on a 1′ × 1′ grid is established from sea surface heights (SSHs) of several geodetic missions (GMs) and exact repeat missions. Gridded deflections of the vertical are first calculated from SSHs by the least squares collocation (LSC) method and then used to derive gravity anomalies by the inverse Vening Meinesz formula. In gravity derivation processing, we establish an approximate relationship among the precision of altimetric gravity, precision of geoid gradients, and density of geoid gradients (the average number of geoid gradients per 1′ × 1′ region). The weights of geoid gradients from the Ka-band altimeter for the LSC are innovatively determined by an iterative method. Finally, SCSGA V1.0 is assessed by ship-borne gravity anomalies and marine gravity models. The performance of GMs in gravity derivation is evaluated. In general, the altimetric gravity precision in regions with many islands and reefs increases more obviously than those in other regions when the geoid gradient density increases. The standard deviation of SCSGA V1.0 is 2.78 mGal, which is slightly better than those of four recognized global marine gravity models around the SCS. CryoSat-2 is the most important dataset for SCSGA V1.0. Ka-band SARAL/AltiKa plays a major role in gravity derivation, and the contribution of Haiyang-2A is greater than those of other Ku-band satellites, except CryoSat-2. SCSGA V1.0 is concluded to reach an international advanced level for marine gravity from altimeter data around the SCS.

Original languageEnglish
Article number50
JournalJournal of Geodesy
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 May 2020


  • Deflection of the vertical
  • Geodetic mission
  • Inverse Vening Meinesz formula
  • Marine gravity anomaly
  • Satellite altimetry
  • South China Sea


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