Satellite gravity – enhancements from new satellites and new altimeter technology

C. M. Green*, K. M.U. Fletcher, S. Cheyney, G. J. Dawson, S. J. Campbell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)


This paper reviews the impacts of new satellite altimeter data sets and new technology on the production of satellite gravity. It considers the contribution of the increased data volume, the application of new altimeter acquisition technology and the potential for future developments. Satellite altimeter derived gravity has provided gravity maps of the world's seas since the 1980s, but, from 1995 to 2010, virtually all improvements were in the processing as there were no new satellite data with closely spaced tracks. In recent years, new data from CryoSat-2 (launched in 2010) and the geodetic mission of Jason-1 (2012–2013) have provided a wealth of additional coverage and new technology allows further improvements. The synthetic aperture radar mode of CryoSat-2 uses a scanning approach to limit the size of the altimeter sea surface footprint in the along-track direction. Tests indicate that this allows reliable data to be acquired closer to coastlines. The synthetic aperture radar interferometric mode of CryoSat-2 uses two altimeters to locate sea-surface reflection points laterally away from the satellite track. In a study to generate gravity for freshwater lakes, this mode is found to be valuable in extending the available satellite coverage. The AltiKa altimeter uses higher frequency radar to provide less noisy sea-surface signals and its new orbit mode gives potential for further improvements in satellite gravity. Future developments include the potential for swath mapping to provide further gravity improvements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1611-1619
Number of pages9
JournalGeophysical Prospecting
Issue number6
Early online date22 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019


  • Acquisition
  • Gravity
  • Imaging

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Satellite gravity – enhancements from new satellites and new altimeter technology'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this