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Journal of Geodetic Science

Editor-in-Chief: Eshagh, Mehdi

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Online
ISSN
2081-9943
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On the geoid and orthometric height vs. quasigeoid and normal height

Lars E. Sjöberg
Published Online: 2018-12-31 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jogs-2018-0011

Abstract

The geoid, but not the quasigeoid, is an equipotential surface in the Earth’s gravity field that can serve both as a geodetic datum and a reference surface in geophysics. It is also a natural zero-level surface, as it agrees with the undisturbed mean sea level. Orthometric heights are physical heights above the geoid,while normal heights are geometric heights (of the telluroid) above the reference ellipsoid. Normal heights and the quasigeoid can be determined without any information on the Earth’s topographic density distribution, which is not the case for orthometric heights and geoid. We show from various derivations that the difference between the geoid and the quasigeoid heights, being of the order of 5 m, can be expressed by the simple Bouguer gravity anomaly as the only term that includes the topographic density distribution. This implies that recent formulas, including the refined Bouguer anomaly and a difference between topographic gravity potentials, do not necessarily improve the result. Intuitively one may assume that the quasigeoid, closely related with the Earth’s surface, is rougher than the geoid. For numerical studies the topography is usually divided into blocks of mean elevations, excluding the problem with a non-star shaped Earth. In this case the smoothness of both types of geoid models are affected by the slope of the terrain,which shows that even at high resolutions with ultra-small blocks the geoid model is likely as rough as the quasigeoid model. In case of the real Earth there are areas where the quasigeoid, but not the geoid, is ambiguous, and this problem increases with the numerical resolution of the requested solution. These ambiguities affect also normal and orthometric heights. However, this problem can be solved by using the mean quasigeoid model defined by using average topographic heights at any requested resolution. An exact solution of the ambiguity for the normal height/quasigeoid can be provided by GNSS-levelling.

Keywords: ambiguous quasigeoid; geoid; geoidquasigeoid difference; resolution; vertical datum; quasigeoid

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About the article

Received: 2018-08-06

Accepted: 2018-11-06

Published Online: 2018-12-31

Published in Print: 2018-12-01


Citation Information: Journal of Geodetic Science, Volume 8, Issue 1, Pages 115–120, ISSN (Online) 2081-9943, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jogs-2018-0011.

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© by Lars E. Sjöberg, published by De Gruyter. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. BY-NC-ND 4.0

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