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On inversion of the second- and third-order

gravitational tensors by Stokes’ integral formula


for a regional gravity recovery
MOHAMMAD A. SHARIFI1, MOHSEN ROMESHKANI1 AND ROBERT TENZER2,3*

1 School of Surveying and Geospatial Engineering, College of Engineering, University of


Tehran, Iran
2 The Key Laboratory of Geospace Environment and Geodesy, Wuhan University, Wuhan,
China (rtenzer@sgg.whu.edu.cn)
3 New Technologies for the Information Society (NTIS), University of West Bohemia,
306 14 Plzeň, Czech Republic (tenzer@kma.zcu.cz)
* Corresponding author

Received: April 28, 2016; Revised: July 11, 2016; Accepted: August 30, 2016

ABSTRACT

A regional recovery of the Earth’s gravity field from satellite observables has become
particularly important in various geoscience studies in order to better localize stochastic
properties of observed data, while allowing the inversion of a large amount of data,
collected with a high spatial resolution only over the area of interest. One way of doing
this is to use observables, which have a more localized support. As acquired in recent
studies related to a regional inversion of the Gravity field and steady-state Ocean
Circulation Explorer (GOCE) data, the satellite gravity-gradient observables have a more
localized support than the gravity observations. Following this principle, we compare
here the performance of the second- and third-order derivatives of the gravitational
potential in context of a regional gravity modeling, namely estimating the gravity
anomalies. A functional relation between these two types of observables and the gravity
anomalies is formulated by means of the extended Stokes’ integral formula (or more
explicitly its second- and third-order derivatives) while the inverse solution is carried out
by applying a least-squares technique and the ill-posed inverse problem is stabilized by
applying Tikhonov’s regularization. Our results reveal that the third-order radial
derivatives of the gravitational potential are the most suitable among investigated input
data types for a regional gravity recovery, because these observables preserve more
information on a higher-frequency part of the gravitational spectrum compared to the
vertical gravitational gradients. We also demonstrate that the higher-order horizontal
derivatives of the gravitational potential do not necessary improve the results. We explain
this by the fact that most of the gravity signal is comprised in its radial component, while
the horizontal components are considerably less sensitive to spatial variations of the
gravity field.

K e y w o r d s : satellite gradiometry, gravity field modeling, GOCE, inverse problem,


gravitational curvature

Stud. Geophys. Geod., 61 (2017), 453468, DOI: 10.1007/s11200-016-0831-7 453


© 2017 Inst. Geophys. CAS, Prague
M.A. Sharifi et al.

1. INTRODUCTION
Since the gravity-gradient observations have more pronounced regional support than
the gravity observations, many of recent studies have focused on a regional gravity
recovery from processing the satellite gravity-gradiometry (SGG) data, provided by the
Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) (European Space
Agency, 1999; Albertella et al., 2002), while reducing significantly a spatial coverage of
data used for the inversion, otherwise required in global applications. For this purpose,
various discrete and stochastic approaches have been developed and applied based on
utilizing a discretized parameterization of the gravity field, such as the integral
transformation or the radial basis function approach, instead of using a spherical harmonic
representation of the global gravitational field. Furthermore, regional inversions allow
a detailed and accurate modeling of the gravity field based on representing more
realistically stochastic properties of data within a particular study area. Meanwhile, the
distant-zone contribution could be treated by using, for instance, the a priori global
gravitational model (GGM) in order to suppress truncation errors (i.e., the distant-zone
contribution).
Among functional models, the second-order partial derivatives of the extended Stokes’
integral formula are often used to define a functional relation between the gravity
anomalies and the GOCE gravity gradients. For the gravity-gradient inversion, these
integral equations are discretized and parameterized. A regional recovery of (unknown
and sought) gravity anomalies from the (observed) GOCE gravity gradients is then done
by solving the system of observation equations. Alternatively, a stochastic model is
applied to invert a large number of the GOCE observations onto a relatively low number
of values which are used to parameterize the regional gravity field to the extent limited by
a real spatial resolution of the GOCE observations, which is about 6080 km at the
equator (in terms of a half-wavelength). A regional gravity-gradient inversion is generally
an ill-posed problem, meaning that the noise in GOCE data could propagate as a signal
into estimated parameters. To stabilize the solution, regularization schemes are applied.
Among numerous studies addressing methods for the SGG data inversion we could
mention works of Krarup (1969), Reed (1973), Zielinski (1975), Rummel (1976), Krarup
and Tscherning (1984), Tscherning (1988,1989,1990), Rummel et al. (1989), Arabelos
and Tscherning (1993, 1995, 1999), Visser (1992), Xu (1992, 1998, 2009), Eshagh (2008),
Janák et al. (2009), Yildiz (2012), Shen et al. (2012), Tscherning and Herceg (2015) and
Pitoňák et al. (2016).
A least-squares collocation technique requires the a priori information about unknown
parameters in forming the respective covariance function, while such information is not
required when using the integral approach, which is typically solved by applying a least-
squares technique. Invalidity of this function leads to incorrect results (cf. Moritz, 1980).
On the contrary, the main problem of applying the integral approach is a spatial truncation
error that affects the results (Eshagh, 2011). Xu (1992, 1998, 2009), Kotsakis (2007),
Janák et al. (2014) and Eshagh (2009) used an indirect solution of the second-order
derivative of the extended Stokes’ formula to recover gravity anomalies. Eshagh (2010b)
applied a stochastic modification of the integral formula for this purpose. He
demonstrated that the best solution is attained by applying a biased least-squares
modification. Eshagh (2011) developed the integral approach and presented combinations

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On inversion of the second- and third-order gravitational tensors …

of the SGG components for recovering the geoid surface (i.e., the potential field).
Romeshkani (2011) and Eshagh and Romeshkani (2011) used the extended Stokes’
integral formula for a validation of the horizontal-horizontal and vertical-horizontal
components of SGG data based on solving a least-squares modification. Later, Eshagh
and Romeshkani (2013) investigated the errors in gravity anomalies estimated from SGG
data based on applying the integral approach and the variance component estimation
(VCE) technique. Romeshkani and Eshagh (2015) used deterministic modifications of the
integral approach to validate SGG data. The radial basis functions were used for a
regional gravity modeling from SGG data, for instance, by Eicker et al. (2005, 2014a,b)
and Naeimi et al. (2015). It is worth mentioning that the second-order derivatives of the
potential could also be facilitated in magnetic field applications (e.g., Kotsiaros and
Olsen, 2012, 2014).
Until recently, the observables have been restricted mainly to the first- and second-
order derivatives of the gravity potential, measuring only the gravity and gravity
gradients. Some authors, however, focused on improving the accuracy and resolution of
regional gravity modeling, while localizing inverse solutions. One way to achieve this is
to observe higher than the second-order derivatives of the gravitational potential (e.g.,
Balakin et al., 1997). There are also ongoing proposals for developing similar sensors for
future geodetic space missions. The OPTical Interferometry for global Mass change
detection from space (OPTIMA) is a newly proposed satellite mission (Brieden et al.,
2010) for mapping the Earth’s external gravity field with a higher resolution based on
using sensors for observing components of the third-order gravitational tensor. The
gravity field curvature measurements by the atom interferometer have been conducted by
Rosi et al. (2015).
Jacoby and Smilde (2009) demonstrated that the third-order derivatives of the
gravitational field are more sensitive at a higher-frequency gravitational spectrum. Du et
al. (2015) developed non-singular relations for some components of the third-order
derivatives of the magnetic field. One advantage of using the third- and higher-order
gravitational tensors is their independence on the orientation of platform sensors. The
third-order derivatives of the gravitational field have also some theoretical implications.
Rummel et al. (1993) and Albertella et al. (2002), for instance, used these quantities to
analyze the second-order derivatives of the Earth’s gravitational field. Ardalan and
Grafarend (2001) used the third-order derivatives of the normal gravity field in relation
with Bruns' theorem. More recently, theoretical development of numerical schemes
related with applying the third-order derivatives of the gravitational potential has been
addressed by several authors. Casotto and Fantino (2009) derived and summarized
expressions for the first-, second- and third-order gravitational tensors defined in different
reference frames and facilitated these expressions in methods for the gravity field
synthesis. Hamáčková et al. (2016) presented non-singular relations for all components of
the Earth’s gravitational field based on applying a numerical strategy developed before by
Eshagh (2008). Šprlák and Novák (2015) presented the expressions needed for finding the
correlation between the mass-density distribution and the third-order derivatives of the
Earth’s gravitational field. Petrovskaya and Vershkov (2010) derived the generalized
expressions for an arbitrary order of the gravitational tensors in terms of spherical
harmonics. Nagy et al. (2000) presented directional derivatives of the gravitational
potential up the third-order terms. Keller and Sharifi (2005) investigated principles of the

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M.A. Sharifi et al.

SGG data collected using a pair of satellites and developed the effect of higher-order
gravitational tensors in terms of a Taylor series. Fukushima (2012, 2013) derived
respective expressions for a spherical harmonic synthesis. The studies of the third-order
gravitational tensors were addressed also by Šprlák et al. (2016), Šprlák and Novák (2016)
and Ghobadi-Far et al. (2016).
Following this concept, we compare here the performance of integral approaches
formulated for the second- and third-order derivatives of the Earth’s gravitational
potential. After giving a brief recapitulation of theoretical models and a least-squares
estimation principle, the behavior of integral kernels is studied in context of a regional
gravity recovery. A theoretical part is followed by numerical experiments, where we use
the second-order derivatives (SOD) of the gravitational potential obtained from processing
the GOCE data to recover regionally the gravity anomalies. We then repeat the same
computation for the third-order derivatives (TOD) of the gravitational potential and
compare the accuracy of both methods.

2. THEORY

A regional recovery of the gravity anomalies from the higher-order terms is


conveniently defined by means of the extended Stokes’ integral formula. Here we
summarize the most fundamental definitions.
2.1. Functional relation
The SOD and TOD components of the gravitational potential can be used to recover
the gravity anomalies at sea level (or another reference surface). In fact, the system of
discretized integral equations is solved so that the SOD and TOD data observed at satellite
attitudes are converted to unknown values, which parameterize the gravitational field at
a chosen reference surface. Since the radial components comprise most of the
gravitational signal, we investigated the following SOD components: Tzz, Txz and Tyz, and
from the TOD components we selected: Tzzz, Txzz, Tyzz, Txxz, Tyyz and Txyz.
For the inversion of the SOD components, the following estimator is applied (Sjöberg,
2003; Eshagh, 2009, 2010a)
R
Tzz   K0  r ,   g  d ,
4 
(1)

 Txz  R  cos  
  4   K1  r ,    sin   g d ,

 Tyz (2)
    
 2n  1
K p  r,    np Pn  cos  , p = 0, 1 , (3)
n2 2
n 1
2 R 0
0n    , 1n   n  2  n , (4)
n 1 r  r2
where  and  are the polar coordinates, i.e., the spherical distance and azimuth
respectively, between the computation and integration points,  is the surface integration

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On inversion of the second- and third-order gravitational tensors …

domain, g  is the gravity anomaly at the integration point (and the reference surface),
d is the surface integration element, R is the Earth’s mean radius, r is the geocentric
radius of the computation point, and Pn is the Legendre polynomial of degree n.
The TOD of gravitational potential comprise, in total, 27 components, but only 10 of
them are sufficient for a representation of the third-order gravitational tensor, because
they are symmetric with respect to each other (cf. Casotto and Fantino, 2009). Moreover,
three combinations satisfy the Laplace equation in the mass-free space domain, namely
  
x
 Txx  Tyy  Tzz   0 , y
 Txx  Tyy  Tzz   0 , z
 Txx  Tyy  Tzz   0 . (5)

The components of the third-order gravitational tensor can then be divided into four
groups, specifying four HHH components, three HHV components, two HVV
components and one VVV component of the gravitational curvature (cf. Šprlák and
Novák, 2015); where H and V denote horizontal and vertical components respectively.
By analogy with the SOD components, we used only the TOD components that
contain at least one radial-derivative element. Then, Tzzz, Txzz, Tyzz, Txxz, Tyyz and Txyz
were utilized for the inversion. Šprlák and Novák (2015) derived the integral formulas for
these components in terms of the extended Stokes' integral formula as follows
 Tzzz 
 
 Txzz 
 Tyzz  1
  K *  r ,  ,   g  d .
 4 R 2 
(6)
 Txxz

T 
 zzy 
T 
 xzy 
The integral kernels K * defined in Eq. (6) read

   R n  4  2 n  1 n  1 n  2  n  3 
  Pn , 0  cos  for Tzzz ,
n  0  r  1 n

   R n  4  2 n  1 n  2  n  3 
  Pn ,1  cos  cos    for Txzz ,
n  0  r  n 1

   R n  4  2 n  1 n  2  n  3 
K*  r, ,        Pn ,1  cos  sin    for Tyzz , (7)
n  0  r  n 1
 n4
  R  2 n  1 n  1 n  2  n  3 
  Pn , 0  cos 
n  0  r  2  n  1
 for Txxz ,
n4
 cos  2    R   2 n  1 n  3 
     Pn , 2  cos 
 2 n  0 r  n 1

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M.A. Sharifi et al.

   R n  4  2 n  1 n  1 n  2  n  3 
   Pn , 0  cos 
n  0  r  2  n  1
 for Tyyz ,
 cos  2    R  n  4  2 n  1 n  3 

K*  r, ,        Pn , 2  cos  (7)
 2 n  0 r  n 1
 n4
  R  2 n  1 n  3 
   Pn , 2  cos  .sin  2  for Txyz ,
 n  0  r  2  n  1

where Pn , i  cos  is the associated Legendre function of degree n and order i. The
closed-form formulae of the kernels in Eq. (7) can be found in Šprlák and Novák (2015).
2.2. Estimation principle
The integral equations are discretized according to the spatial resolution of SGG data
(i.e., discretization based on the input data resolution) and a desirable spatial resolution of
the result (i.e., discretization based on a chosen resolution of estimated parameters). By
this discretized forms, the integral equations can be written in the following vector-matrix
notation for the Gauss-Markov’s estimation model
l  ε  Ax , (8)

x   x u  1   g  R ,  ,     ,
u 1

 
E   T   02 W 1 , l   l n 1   Tij for SOD, Tijk for TOD 
n 1
, i , j , k :  x , y , z ,

 R  cos    p  1 , Txz , Tyz ;  (9)


 K p  r,  p   for SOD ;  
4  sin    p  0 , Tzz ; 
E     0 , A   A n  u   ,
 1 
K *  r , ,   for TOD
 2 R 2 

where A is the design matrix of discretized integral equations, l is the vector of


observations,  is the vector of the observation errors, x is the vector of estimated
parameters (i.e., the gravity anomalies),  02 is the a priori variance factor (set equal to 1),
W is the weight matrix of observations, E    is the statistical expectation, u is the
number of estimated parameters, and n is the number of observations.
The discretization of the expression in Eq. (6) with respect to quantities which
parameterize the solution (i.e., the gravity anomalies) yields the (discretized) Fredholm’s
integral equation of the first kind. This linear relation is used to determine the regional
gravity filed from satellite data. If the number of unknown parameters is the same as the
number of input data, the inverse solution is found directly by solving the system of
observation equations in Eq. (8). Since the number of estimated parameters is typically
less than the number of input data, the result is found by solving the system of normal

458 Stud. Geophys. Geod., 61 (2017)


On inversion of the second- and third-order gravitational tensors …

equations. We solved this over-determined system by applying a least-squares approach.


Eshagh (2011) demonstrated that the system of normal equations is ill-conditioned and its
solution is very sensitive to existing errors in observed data. To stabilize the ill-posed
problem, we applied Tikhonov’s (1977) regularization. For the most simplistic case, the
regularization matrix is set to be the identity matrix. The regularization is then reduced to
only find the regularization parameter. This parameter should be estimated optimally, so
the regional inversion provides a realistic solution. The overestimation yields too smooth
solution, while the underestimation of the regularization parameter magnifies a higher-
frequency contribution, which is mainly attributed to data noise rather than real signal in
input data. A determination of the regularization parameter also depends on the purpose of
study.

3. NUMERICAL STUDIES

To establish the data-area extension we begin with investigating the spatial behavior of
integral kernels used for a regional inversion. In numerical studies we address a regional
recovery of the gravity anomalies by using simulated satellite data at mean satellite
altitude (250 km).
3.1. Integral kernels behavior
Since the most significant portion of the distant-zone contribution depends on
a behavior of the isotropic component of integral kernels, we investigated only the spatial
kernel behavior with respect to the spherical distance. It is worth mentioning that Wolf
(2007) considered also the azimuthal behavior of SOD kernels, while Šprlák and Novák
(2015) extended such study also for TOD kernels. The behavior of isotropic part of the
SOD and TOD kernels is illustrated in Fig. 1. Singularities of the SOD kernels for the
spherical distance approaching zero were already investigated by Eshagh (2009) and
Eshagh and Ghorbannia (2014).
As seen in Fig. 1, the isotropic component of integral kernels TVH, THHV and THVV
equals zero for  = 0, further increases (in absolute sense) with the spherical distance, and
finally approaching zero value after reaching a certain spherical distance. Eshagh (2011)

Fig. 1. Isotropic kernel behavior of: a) the second-order derivatives and b) third-order derivatives.

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called this type of kernel behavior, a bell-shape kernel, and demonstrated that data
distributed around the computation point (where kernel reaches maxima) have more
significant contribution than data in the nearest vicinity of the computation point.
A quickly attenuating behavior of integral kernels is the most suitable for a regional
inversion. We can see that all investigated types of kernels have such behavior,
approximating zero value after reaching a certain spherical distance. The most suitable
kernels for a regional inversion obviously approach zero more quickly. As seen in Fig. 1,
the radial-component kernels TVV and TVVV are much more localized than the mixed
horizontal-vertical kernels TVH, THHV and THVV. Moreover, the radial-component kernels
are larger in magnitude than the mixed horizontal-vertical kernels. From this analysis, we
could conclude that the vertical components of SOD and TOD data are the most suitable
for a regional gravity inversion due to two reasons. Firstly, these kernels capture most of
the gravitational signal. Secondly, these kernels are more localized, meaning that most of
the gravitational contribution comes from the closest vicinity around the computation
point. As consequence, the data area required for a regional inversion could significantly
be reduced.
3.2. Data acquisition
The numerical experiment for a regional recovery of the gravity anomalies was
selected at the study area in Fennoscandia (limited between latitudes 53 and 73 of the
northern latitudes the 0 and 35 of the eastern longitudes). The EIGEN-51C (Bruinsma et
al., 2010) coefficients complete to a spherical harmonic degree 359 and the GRS80
(Moritz, 2000) normal gravity field parameters were used to generate the noise-free SOD
and TOD data in the local north-oriented reference frame (LNOF) at the mean satellite
attitude of 250 km. These computations were realized on four different spherical grids,
using 0.2, 0.3, 0.4 and 0.5 data-sampling intervals. The non-singular forms presented
by Eshagh (2009) were used to simulate the SOD data, while the TOD data were
simulated according to Du et al. (2015). The gravity anomalies generated from the
EIGEN-51C coefficients (up to degree 359) were used to validate the results obtained
from a regional inversion of the SOD and TOD data. To minimize the truncation errors
(i.e., the distant-zone contribution), we used the data area extension of 10 with respect to
the computation area. As seen from the behavior of integral kernels in Fig. 1, this data-
area extension is sufficient, because beyond this spherical distance, all integral kernels are
very close to zero. Eshagh and Ghorbannia (2014) demonstrated that in this case the
spatial truncation errors in terms of the gravity disturbances are less than 2.5 mGal. The
regional maps of the simulated SOD and TOD data and the gravity anomalies are shown
in Fig. 2 and their statistical summary is given in Table 1.
3.3. Results
We used the SOD and TOD data shown in Fig. 2 to estimate the gravity anomalies.
The regional inversion was carried out by applying the conjugate-gradient method. We
used the (zero-order) Tikhonov regularization and estimated the regularization parameter
by applying the quasi-optimal technique (Hansen, 2007). The systematic bias due to
applying the regularization was solved for by using the method of Xu et al. (2006). The
predicted gravity anomalies were compared with the EIGEN-51C gravity anomalies. The

460 Stud. Geophys. Geod., 61 (2017)


On inversion of the second- and third-order gravitational tensors …

statistical summary of differences between the predicted and “true” gravity anomalies is
given in Table 2.

Fig. 2. Regional maps of the second- and third-order derivative data and the gravity anomalies at
the study area in Fennoscandia, generated from the EIGEN-51C coefficients (up to degree 359).

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M.A. Sharifi et al.

Table 1. Statistics of the second- and third-order derivative data and the gravity anomalies at the
study area in Fennoscandia.

Component Min Mean Max St.Dev.

Tzz [109 s2] 0.44 0.02 0.48 0.19


Tzzz [1014 m1s2] 0.32 0.01 0.26 0.09
Txz [109 s2] 0.25 0.03 0.23 0.09
Txzz [1014 m1s2] 0.14 0.01 0.14 0.05
Txxz [1014 m1s2] 0.12 0.0 0.13 0.04
Tyz [109 s2] 0.47 0.14 0.12 0.14
Tyzz [1014 m1s2] 0.19 0.01 0.17 0.07
Tyyz [1014 m1s2] 0.22 0.0 0.18 0.06
Txyz [1014 m1s2] 0.05 0.0 0.09 0.03
∆g [mGal] 158.9 1.1 129.4 25.1

Table 2 Statistics of differences (values in mGal) between the predicted and true gravity anomalies
(for four different data-sampling intervals). RMS: root mean square error.

Min Mean Max RMS Min Mean Max RMS


Component
0.5 0.4
Tzz 29 1.4 22 7.8 32 1.3 22 8.1
Tzzz 13 7.9 29 6.5 20 3.2 27 6.8
Txz 61 4.6 60 21.8 62 5.0 60 21.8
Txzz 17 9.3 43 11.5 17 8.8 41 11.5
Txxz 48 0.8 72 19.6 48 0.4 72 19.8
Tyz 23 8.6 41 9.5 21 8.6 41 9.5
Tyzz 17 6.2 31 8.4 19 6 35 8.3
Tyyz 65 1.2 82 24.2 66 1 82 24.4
Txyz 67 0.5 79 22.6 66 0.8 77 22.9
0.3 0.2
Tzz 30 1.5 21 7.8 30 1.5 21 7.8
Tzzz 12 7.8 29.6 6.5 13 7.8 29 6.5
Txz 62 4.7 62 21.0 62 4.7 62 21.9
Txzz 18 9 43 11.5 18 9 43 11.5
Txxz 49 0.7 74 19.8 50 0.6 74 19.8
Tyz 25 8.6 41 9.5 26 8.6 41 9.6
Tyzz 18 6.2 32 8.4 19 6.2 32 8.5
Tyyz 66 1.2 84 24.3 66 1.2 84 24.4
Txyz 68 0.6 80 22.7 67 0.6 80 22.8

462 Stud. Geophys. Geod., 61 (2017)


On inversion of the second- and third-order gravitational tensors …

Eshagh (2010b, 2011) demonstrated that the component Tzz provides the best regional
gravity solution among the SOD components. Our results in Table 2 confirmed this
finding. Moreover, we can see that the best result in terms of the root mean square error
(RMS) of differences between the predicted and true values of the gravity anomalies was
attained from using the component Tzzz. In this case, the RMS of differences is 6.5 mGal.
This component is thus the most suitable for a regional recovery among the SOD and
TOD satellite data. The component Tzzz preserves more information, especially at
a higher-frequency part of the investigated gravitational spectrum than the component Tzz.
As seen in Table 2, the result obtained from inverting the component Tzz approximated the
gravity anomalies with the RMS of differences 7.8 mGal (for 0.5 grid). This RMS fit is
about 17% worse than that obtained from the component Tzzz. This numerical finding
revealed that the regional inversion of higher-order radial derivatives of the gravitational
potential provide a better result in terms of the RMS fit.
To confirm this finding we further compared the results from a regional inversion of
the mixed horizontal-vertical components of the SOD and TOD data. We took into
consideration pairs of the components Txz and Tyz and their respective higher-order radial
derivatives Txzz and Tyzz. As seen in Table 2, the component Txzz yields the result of which
the RMS fit is about 10.3 mGal better than that obtained for Txz (for a 0.5 grid). Similarly,
the RMS fit from a regional inversion of Tyzz is about 1.1 mGal better than that obtained
from Tyz. However, adding higher-order horizontal derivatives does not necessary
improve results. This is evident by comparing the results obtained from a regional
inversion of the SOD components Txz and Tyz and their respective higher-order
components Txxz and Tyyz. As seen in Table 2, the RMS fit of the TOD components is in
overall better when using the SOD components. This finding emphasizes the fact that the
radial components in SOD and TOD data are the most essential for an accurate regional
recovery of the gravitational field, especially at higher frequencies.
The comparison of results obtained from the regional inversion of SOD and TOD data
also indicates that the solution obtained from the component Tzzz is systematically more
biased than that from Tzz. The higher-order radial derivatives of the gravitational potential
thus provide better result in terms of the RMS fit, but typically magnify the systematic bias
due to the fact that for the higher-order radial derivatives, the gravitational signal is much
more localized, while the long-to-medium wavelength gravity features are not captured
closely enough. On the contrary, the lower-order radial derivatives of the gravitational
potential preserve more signal at the long-to-medium wavelengths, thus reduce the
systematic bias, while worsening the accuracy of a gravity field recovery at higher
frequencies. The conclusions related with a systematic bias hold only for radial
components, i.e., Txz, Tyz and Tzz relative to Txzz, Tyzz and Tzzz. In contrast, such
conclusions do not hold for horizontal components. As seen in Fig. 2, the TOD
components Txxz and Tyyz are less biased than the SOD components Txz and Tyz.
Interestingly, better results were generally obtained when using more detailed grid (cf.,
Table 2). However, it is important to mention that the improvement of the RMS fit by
using more detailed parameterization of the solution is limited by the actual resolution of

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M.A. Sharifi et al.

input data. In our case, the spatial resolution of the recovered gravity field should be more
or less the same as the resolution of GOCE data (i.e., about 60 to 80 km).

4. CONCLUSIONS

We have utilized the second- and third-order derivatives of the extended Stokes’
integral formula to define the functional relations between the second-order derivatives
(SOD) and third-order derivatives (TOD) of the gravitational potential with the gravity
anomalies. We then applied these functional relations in the regional gravity recovery and
compared their performance by means of resulting accuracy and bias. The distant-zone
contribution was reduced by extending the data area by 10 with respect to the study area.
Such simple procedure was used instead of removing the long-wavelength part of the
gravitational field in order to see how the whole investigated gravitational spectrum
affects the results.
The regional recovery was performed using the simulated and real SOD data and the
near-real TOD data. Both results revealed the same general aspects. The most important
finding of this study is the fact that the Tzzz data provide the best result in terms of the
standard deviation fit. The higher-order radial derivatives thus generally provide better
solution in terms of the root mean square error (RMS) fit. On the contrary, the result does
not improve by adding the one-order higher horizontal component to either vertical or
horizontal components of the gravitational-gradient tensor. This was explained by the fact
that most of the gravitational signal is comprised in its radial component.
A regional inversion of the TOD component Tzzz, however, introduced much larger
systematic bias than that obtained when inverting the SOD component Tzz. The reason is
that the SOD component captures more signal at the long-to-medium wavelengths of the
gravitational field, while the TOD component reproduces more realistically the higher
frequencies of gravitational spectrum.

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