Abstract

Satellite altimeters have mapped the marine geoid over virtually all of the world's oceans. These geoid height measurements may be used to compute free air gravity anomalies in areas where shipboard measurements are scarce. Two-dimensional (2-D) transformations of geoid height to gravity are limited by currently available satellite track spacing and usually sacrifice short wavelength resolution. Full resolution may be retained along widely spaced satellite tracks if a one dimensional (1-D) transformation is used. Although the 1-D transform retains full resolution, it assumes that the gravity field is lineated perpendicular to the profile and is therefore limited by the orientation of the profile relative to the field. We investigate the resolution and accuracy of the 1-D transform method in the Northern Gulf of Mexico by comparing satellite gravity profiles with high quality shipboard data provided by Edcon Inc. The long wavelength components of the gravity field are constrained by a low degree reference field while the short wavelength components are computed from altimeter profiles. We find that rms misfit decreases with increasing spherical harmonic degree of the reference field up to 180 degrees (lambda > 220 km) with negligible improvement for higher degrees. The average rms misfit for the 17 profiles used in this study was 6.5 mGal with a 180 degree reference field. Spectral coherence estimates indicate that the satellite data resolve features with wavelengths as short as 25 km.

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