Single-Course English 5 ECTS

Summer School in Gravity Field Science (Physical Geodesy and Earth Observation)

Overall Course Objectives

The Earth’s gravity field varies with location depending on the composition of the materials in the subsurface and time as a function of climatic and geodynamic processes. These variations impact the shape of the Earth and cause the water in the oceans not to coincide with a simple surface but depend on the gravity field variations. Data from gravity field satellites provide unique monitoring of the melt of the ice sheets, sea level rise, and global ocean circulation.

The goal of the course is to provide the students with advanced knowledge about mathematical models, advanced methodology for determining gravity field variations, and the use of satellites for gravity field measurements and determination of auxiliary data such as digital terrain models and use of gravity field data in moderne geodetic mapping, geophysics and climate monitoring.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand the gravity field variations as a function of time and place, and its role in geodesy, surveying and climate change applications
  • Be able to use and understand advanced methods for modelling gravity and other potential fields in 3D (globally and regionally), including auxiliary uses in geophysics and earth observation.
  • Be able to download and use satellite data (GRACE, GOCE) and global spherical harmonic models for use in gravity field modelling, geoid determination, and climate change applications
  • Be able to download and handle digitial terrain models for use in physical geodesy
  • Be able to use airborne gravity measurements, understand error sources from aircraft positioning, and the optimal combination of in-situ, airborne and satellite data.
  • Get knowledge of new technologies for gravity measurement (quantum sensors, inertial sensors, next generation gravity satellite missions)
  • Understand background and error sources in marine gravity measurement by satellite altimetry, and their use for geoid determination and ocean circulation
  • Work independently on a regional geodetic/geophyscal project, including being able to use advanced geodetic software from different sources
  • Present scientific project work.

Course Content

Basic geodesy reference systems, gravity field, spherical harmonics/earth gravity models
Gravimetry: surface, marine and airborne
Global mass changes from satellites (GRACE, GRACE-FO)
GNSS kinematic positioning for aircraft and ship gravimetry
Inertial navigation and gravimetry
Satellite altimetry for gravity and sea level
Least squares adjustment methods and inversion methods
Gravity field modelling by Fourier methods
Terrain effects in gravity field modelling
Geoid, vertical datum and height systems – international cases
Novel sensors for gravity measurements – quantum gravimetry

Recommended prerequisites

30142/30150/30560, (or basic knowledge of geophysics/geodesy and gravity field concepts)

Teaching Method

Lectures and exercises.
Work on a dedicated case-study project involving in-sItu, airborne and satellite data.
2-week international school and 1-week reading/assignment.


International participants expected in the summer school (DTU project partners)
The course also aimed for PhD students.

Limited number of seats

Minimum: 2, Maximum: 10.

Please be aware that this course has a minimum requirement for the number of participants needed, in order for it to be held. If these requirements are not met, then the course will not be held. Furthermore, there is a limited number of seats available. If there are too many applicants, a pool will be created for the remainder of the qualified applicants, and they will be selected at random. You will be informed 8 days before the start of the course, whether you have been allocated a spot.

See course in the course database.





3 weeks




DTU Lyngby Campus

Course code 30564
Course type Candidate
Semester start Week 23
Semester end Week 26
Days Mon-fri 8:00-17:00

7.500,00 DKK

Please note that this course has participants limitation. Read more