Spatial and Spectral Representations of the Geoid-to-Quasigeoid Correction

Robert Tenzer, Christian Hirt, Sten Claessens, Pavel Novák

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


In geodesy, the geoid and the quasigeoid are used as a reference surface for heights. Despite some similarities between these two concepts, the differences between the geoid and the quasigeoid (i.e. the geoid-to-quasigeoid correction) have to be taken into consideration in some specific applications which require a high accuracy. Over the world’s oceans and marginal seas, the quasigeoid and the geoid are identical. Over the continents, however, the geoid-to-quasigeoid correction could reach up to several metres especially in the mountainous, polar and geologically complex regions. Various methods have been developed and applied to compute this correction regionally in the spatial domain using detailed gravity, terrain and crustal density data. These methods utilize the gravimetric forward modelling of the topographic density structure and the direct/inverse solutions to the boundary-value problems in physical geodesy. In this article, we provide a brief summary of existing theoretical and numerical studies on the geoid-to-quasigeoid correction. We then compare these methods with the newly developed procedure and discuss some numerical and practical aspects of computing this correction. In global applications, the geoid-to-quasigeoid correction can conveniently be computed in the spectral domain. For this purpose, we derive and present also the spectral expressions for computing this correction based on applying methods for a spherical harmonic analysis and synthesis of global gravity, terrain and crustal structure models. We argue that the newly developed procedure for the regional gravity-to-potential conversion, applied for computing the geoid-to-quasigeoid correction in the spatial domain, is numerically more stable than the existing inverse models which utilize the gravity downward continuation. Moreover, compared to existing spectral expressions, our definition in the spectral domain takes not only the terrain geometry but also the mass density heterogeneities within the whole Earth into consideration. In this way, the geoid-to-quasigeoid correction and the respective geoid model could be determined more accurately.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)627-658
Number of pages32
JournalSurveys in Geophysics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Correction
  • Geoid
  • Gravity
  • Height
  • Quasigeoid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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