A data-driven approach to local gravity field modelling using spherical radial basis functions

R. Klees, Robert Tenzer, I. Prutkin, T. Wittwer

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

90 Citations (Scopus)


We propose a methodology for local gravity field modelling from gravity data using spherical radial basis functions. The methodology comprises two steps: in step 1, gravity data (gravity anomalies and/or gravity disturbances) are used to estimate the disturbing potential using least-squares techniques. The latter is represented as a linear combination of spherical radial basis functions (SRBFs). A data-adaptive strategy is used to select the optimal number, location, and depths of the SRBFs using generalized cross validation. Variance component estimation is used to determine the optimal regularization parameter and to properly weight the different data sets. In the second step, the gravimetric height anomalies are combined with observed differences between global positioning system (GPS) ellipsoidal heights and normal heights. The data combination is written as the solution of a Cauchy boundary-value problem for the Laplace equation. This allows removal of the non-uniqueness of the problem of local gravity field modelling from terrestrial gravity data. At the same time, existing systematic distortions in the gravimetric and geometric height anomalies are also absorbed into the combination. The approach is used to compute a height reference surface for the Netherlands. The solution is compared with NLGEO2004, the official Dutch height reference surface, which has been computed using the same data but a Stokes-based approach with kernel modification and a geometric six-parameter "corrector surface" to fit the gravimetric solution to the GPS-levelling points. A direct comparison of both height reference surfaces shows an RMS difference of 0.6 cm; the maximum difference is 2.1 cm. A test at independent GPS-levelling control points, confirms that our solution is in no way inferior to NLGEO2004.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)457-471
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Geodesy
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • GPS-levelling data
  • Local gravity field modelling
  • Quasi-geoid
  • Spherical radial basisfunctions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Computers in Earth Sciences


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