Observing and understanding the Earth system variations from space geodesy

Shuanggen Jin, Tonie van Dam, Shimon Wdowinski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


The interaction and coupling of the Earth system components that include the atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, lithosphere, and other fluids in Earth's interior, influence the Earth's shape, gravity field and its rotation (the three pillars of geodesy). The effects of global climate change, such as sea level rise, glacier melting, and geoharzards, also affect these observables. However, observations and models of Earth's system change have large uncertainties due to the lack of direct high temporal-spatial measurements. Nowadays, space geodetic techniques, particularly GNSS, VLBI, SLR, DORIS, InSAR, satellite gravimetry and altimetry provide a unique opportunity to monitor and, therefore, understand the processes and feedback mechanisms of the Earth system with high resolution and precision. In this paper, the status of current space geodetic techniques, some recent observations, and interpretations of those observations in terms of the Earth system are presented. These results include the role of space geodetic techniques, atmospheric-ionospheric sounding, ocean monitoring, hydrologic sensing, cryosphere mapping, crustal deformation and loading displacements, gravity field, geocenter motion, Earth's oblateness variations, Earth rotation and atmospheric-solid earth coupling, etc. The remaining questions and challenges regarding observing and understanding the Earth system are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Geodynamics
StatePublished - Dec 2013


  • Climate change
  • Earth system
  • Interaction
  • Space geodesy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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