Using GRACE to Explain Variations in the Earth's Oblateness

Yu Sun*, Riccardo Riva, Pavel Ditmar, Roelof Rietbroek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
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We present a new approach to estimate time variations in J2. Those variations are represented as the sum of contributions from individual sources. This approach uses solely Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment (GRACE) data and the geoid fingerprints of mass redistributions that take place both at the surface and in the interior of the solid Earth. The results agree remarkably well with those based on satellite laser ranging, while estimates of the sources explain the observed variations in J2. Seasonal variations are dominated by terrestrial water storage and by mass redistribution in the atmosphere and ocean. Trends, however, are primarily controlled by the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and by glacial isostatic adjustment. The positive trend from surface mass variations is larger than the negative trend due to glacial isostatic adjustment and leads to an overall rising trend during the GRACE period (2002–2017).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158-168
Number of pages11
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • C
  • Earth's dynamic oblateness
  • geoid fingerprints
  • J
  • mass redistribution
  • J(2)
  • C-20


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