The German Research Foundation (DFG) has established a number of new research groups and extended ongoing ones. Among the groups that received continued funding for another three years is "New Refined Observations of Climate Change from Spaceborne Gravity Missions (NEROGRAV)." In this DFG Research Group, the scientists led by its speaker Frank Flechtner are developing novel methods and modeling approaches to more precisely evaluate data obtained from gravity satellite missions, derive recommendations for planning future gravity missions, and establish innovative geophysical applications of mass transport time series.
Flechtner says, "Our goal for the second funding phase is not only to generate significantly improved GRACE/GRACE-FO gravity-field models over more than two decades, but also to derive geophysical applications from this long-term series. These include quantifying North Atlantic water transports, estimating extreme hydrometeorological events, or identifying climatic signatures in terrestrial water storage variations. The research will also help us better exploit the potential of the planned succeeding mission GRACE-I and subsequent Next Generation Gravity Missions."
GRACE stands for Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment. The GRACE (2002-2017) and GRACE-Follow On (since 2018) satellite missions provide data that describe the Earth's gravitational field along with its temporal variations. Recently, GFZ celebrated the 20th anniversary of the launch of GRACE and drew the attention of politicians to the most important measurement results. These included quantifying the massive water loss in Germany during the drought years of 2018 and 2019, as well as the drastic melting of the Greenland ice sheet since 2002.
NEROGRAV has been running since 2019 and is now funded for another three years with a sum of 2.3 million euros. The spokesperson is Frank Flechtner from TU Berlin. Other project partners are Maik Thomas (Freie Universität Berlin and GFZ), Denise Dettmering (German Geodetic Research Institute, Technical University of Munich), Henryk Dobslaw and Natalia Panafidina (GFZ), Petra Friedrichs, Jürgen Kusche and Michael Schindelegger (University of Bonn), Roland Pail and Thomas Gruber (Technical University of Munich) and Annette Eicker (HafenCity University Hamburg). Like Frank Flechtner, Maik Thomas heads a section at the GFZ.
Prof. Dr. Frank Flechtner
Head of Section 1.2 Global Geomonitoring and Gravity Field
Principal Investigator at GFZ for the GRACE and GRACE-FO Missions