Monthly Crustal Loading Corrections for Satellite Altimetry

Ray, R. D.; Luthcke, S. B.; van Dam, T.
May 2013
Journal of Atmospheric & Oceanic Technology;May2013, Vol. 30 Issue 5, p999
Academic Journal
Satellite altimeter measurements of sea surface height include a small contribution from vertical motion of the seafloor caused by crustal loading. Loading by ocean tides is routinely allowed for in altimeter data processing. Here, loading by nontidal fluids of the atmosphere, ocean, and terrestrial hydrosphere is examined. The crustal deformation can be computed from either geophysical models or from Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) gravity inversions of mass variability. The loading corrections are found to be very small, rarely exceeding a few millimeters. Nonetheless, they form a significant correction to altimetric determinations of global mean sea level. The correction is most important at the annual cycle and should be accounted for when attempting to balance the global sea level budget.


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