The ability of any satellite gravity mission concept to monitor mass transport processes in the Earth system is typically tested well ahead of its implementation by means of various simulation studies. Those studies often extend from the simulation of realistic orbits and instrumental data all the way down to the retrieval of global gravity field solution time-series. Basic requirement for all these simulations are realistic representations of the spatio-temporal mass variability in the different sub-systems of the Earth, as a source model for the orbit computations.
For such simulations, a suitable source model is required to represent (i) high-frequency (i.e., sub- daily to weekly) mass variability in the atmosphere and oceans, in order to realistically include the effects of temporal aliasing due to non-tidal high-frequency mass variability into the retrieved gravity fields. In parallel, (ii) low-frequency (i.e., monthly to interannual) variability needs to be modelled with realistic amplitudes, particularly at small spatial scales, in order to assess to what extent a new mission concept might provide further insight into physical processes currently not observable.
The updated source model provided here attempts to fulfil both requirements: Based on ECMWF's recent atmospheric reanalysis ERA-Interim and corresponding simulations from numerical models of the other Earth system components, it offers spherical harmonic coefficients of the time-variable global gravity field due to mass variability in atmosphere, oceans, the terrestrial hydrosphere includ- ing the ice-sheets and glaciers, as well as the solid Earth. Simulated features range from sub-daily to multiyear periods with a spatial resolution of spherical harmonics degree and order 180 over a a period of 12 years. In addition to the source model, a de-aliasing model for atmospheric and oceanic high-frequency variability with augmented systematic and random noise is provided for a realistic simulation of the gravity field retrieval process.