Seasonal mass changes and crustal vertical deformations constrained by GPS and GRACE in Northeastern Tibet

Yuanjin Pan, Wen Bin Shen*, Chein-way Hwang, Chaoming Liao, Tengxu Zhang, Guoqing Zhang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Surface vertical deformation includes the Earth’s elastic response to mass loading on or near the surface. Continuous Global Positioning System (CGPS) stations record such deformations to estimate seasonal and secular mass changes. We used 41 CGPS stations to construct a time series of coordinate changes, which are decomposed by empirical orthogonal functions (EOFs), in northeastern Tibet. The first common mode shows clear seasonal changes, indicating seasonal surface mass re-distribution around northeastern Tibet. The GPS-derived result is then assessed in terms of the mass changes observed in northeastern Tibet. The GPS-derived common mode vertical change and the stacked Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) mass change are consistent, suggesting that the seasonal surface mass variation is caused by changes in the hydrological, atmospheric and non-tidal ocean loads. The annual peak-to-peak surface mass changes derived from GPS and GRACE results show seasonal oscillations in mass loads, and the corresponding amplitudes are between 3 and 35 mm/year. There is an apparent gradually increasing gravity between 0.1 and 0.9 μGal/year in northeast Tibet. Crustal vertical deformation is determined after eliminating the surface load effects from GRACE, without considering Glacial Isostatic Adjustment (GIA) contribution. It reveals crustal uplift around northeastern Tibet from the corrected GPS vertical velocity. The unusual uplift of the Longmen Shan fault indicates tectonically sophisticated processes in northeastern Tibet.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1211
JournalSensors (Switzerland)
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2 Aug 2016


  • CGPS time series
  • Crustal vertical deformation
  • Empirical orthogonal function
  • GRACE observations and surface loads


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