On the performance of equiangular mascon solution in GRACE-like missions

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Abbas Abedini
Wolfgang Keller
Ali Reza Amiri-Simkooei


Mass concentration (mascon) solutions for GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) data are widely used in various regional-to-global mass change studies. The current advances in the mascon solution have mainly concentrated on improving the spatial resolution of the solution, enhancing the applied least-squares regularization, and the characterization of the solution errors. Most of the mascon solutions are obtained on the equal-area grid, inducing complexities in creating the grid and its presentation. In this regard, estimation of the mascon solutions on equiangular grids can be appealing. Furthermore, in the equal-area methods, there is no global criterion to determine the size of the mascon areas. The mascon size is usually chosen in a subjective manner which hampers the objective application of different mascon solutions. In view of these challenges, two main questions are addressed in this study: i) what kind of modifications should be made in computation scheme of the mascon solution if equiangular grids are used to account for different areas of the grid patches, and ii) in case of non-equiangular solutions, how to define an objective criterion for the patch sizes based on the resolution of both the observation and the signal of interest. We investigate the performance of the high-resolution mascon-based approach, proposed by Abedini et al. [2021], which uses GRACE-like observations similar to level-1 data for a period of one month over the Greenland region. Two main practical issues are studied on the estimation of the surface density changes as follows. First, we show that for equiangular grids, the area of the patches should be accounted for in the regularization by introducing area-affected weights for the unknown parameters. We investigate the effect of three different area-affected weighting strategies on the derived solution. Secondly in order to obtain proper size for the patches, a novel approach is presented to investigate the performance of the mascon solution using the analysis of the resolution matrix entries. The proposed resolution analysis is used to obtain the optimal patch size for the discretization of the area of interest. Based on the results, it is demonstrated that the minimum legible patch size in the Greenland area for the current settings of the GRACE observations is 0.5 degree in the NS direction and a latitude-adaptive grid-size rather than equiangular grids at high latitude regions in the EW direction.

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How to Cite
Abedini, A., Keller, W. and Amiri-Simkooei, A. R. (2021) “On the performance of equiangular mascon solution in GRACE-like missions”, Annals of Geophysics, 64(2), p. GD219. doi: 10.4401/ag-8621.