Section 1.2: Global Geomonitoring and Gravity Field

Head of Section: Prof. Dr. Frank Flechtner

The Earth gravity field including its temporal variations is a key parameter for understanding the system Earth. Dedicated gravity satellite missions such as GFZ-1, CHAMP, GRACE, GOCE and GRACE-FO, to a large extent developed, operated and analysed by Section 1.2, enable to study mass distribution and mass transport on various spatial and temporal scales. In this context we also make use of various LEO (Low Earth Orbiting) and SLR (Satellite Laser Ranging) satellites to estimate dynamic parameters such as the long-wavelength part of the gravity field, Earth orientation parameters, and global ground station coordinates based on a huge suite of space-geodetic tracking techniques such as DORIS, GNSS and SLR.

Consistent analyses and modelling of all existing space-borne gravity sensors and space geodetic techniques as well as simulation studies for future gravity mission concepts such as GRACE-2 or the International Terrestrial Reference Frame in view of GGOS are integratively performed with our inhouse software package EPOS (Earth Parameter and Orbit System) which is conform to the most recent international standards. This allows us to support the international IAG services ILRS (International Laser Ranging Service) and IDS (International Doris Service) by operating an Analysis Center and an Associate Analysis Center, respectively.

For tracking, data reception and health monitoring of Earth observation satellites we operate the SLR station in Potsdam and a Satellite Receiving Station in Ny-Ålesund (Spitsbergen).

In support of our satellite missions we supplement our Earth monitoring on ground by superconducting gravimeters as well as by gravimetry on moving platforms (i.e. aircrafts and ships). Additionally, we make use of altimetry mission data to study the marine gravity field and to investigate sea level trends on global down to local scales. For this, we operate and analyse a network of coastal tide gauges. This expertise has enabled us to design, implement and operate early warning systems, e.g. in Indonesia or Oman, and to contribute to global and local hazard monitoring, e.g. by establishment and operation of a hydro-meteorological monitoring network in Central Asia or by subsidence monitoring in coastal cities.

The various projects in our section are divided into four major topics:

  1. Development, operation and analysis of gravity field satellite missions
  2. Terrestrial and Airborne Gravimetry
  3. Earth System Parameters and Orbit Dynamics
  4. Geodetic Hazard Monitoring

The topics 1 and 3 are primarily and in close cooperation with the German Aerospace Center (DLR) executed at GFZ´s Branch Office in Oberpfaffenhofen.

Details and dedicated projects can be found in the corresponding topic pages.


Prof. Dr. Frank Flechtner

Head of Section 1.2:
Global Geomonitoring and Gravity Field

building A17 room 00.12

tel. +49 331 288-1130

c/o DLR Oberpfaffenhofen
Münchner Str. 20
D-82234 Wessling
building 126 room 113

tel. +49 8153 90832 10


Angelika Svarovsky

building A17 room 00.14

tel. +49 331 288-1131

Karin Bogner

c/o DLR Oberpaffenhofen
buidling 126  room 115

tel. +49 8153 90832 00