The dedicated gravity satellite missions, in particular the GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) mission launched in 2002, provide unique data for studying temporal variations of mass distribution in the Earth’s system, and thereby, the geometry and the gravity field changes of the Earth. The main objective of this contribution is to estimate physical height (e.g. the orthometric/normal height) changes over Central Europe using GRACE satellite mission data as well as to analyse them and model over the selected study area. Physical height changes were estimated from temporal variations of height anomalies and vertical displacements of the Earth surface being determined over the investigated area. The release 5 (RL05) GRACE-based global geopotential models as well as load Love numbers from the Preliminary Reference Earth Model (PREM) were used as input data. Analysis of the estimated physical height changes and their modelling were performed using two methods: the seasonal decomposition method and the PCA/ EOF (Principal Component Analysis/Empirical Orthogonal Function) method and the differences obtained were discussed. The main findings reveal that physical height changes over the selected study area reach up to 22.8 mm. The obtained physical height changes can be modelled with an accuracy of 1.4 mm using the seasonal decomposition method.
In monitoring vertical displacements in elongated structures (e.g. bridges, dams) by means of precise geometric levelling a reference base usually consists of two subgroups located on both ends of a monitored structure. The bigger the separation of the subgroups, the greater is the magnitude of undetectable displacement of one subgroup with respect to the other. With a focus on a method of observation differences the question arises which of the two basic types of computation datum, i.e. the elastic and the fixed, both applicable in this method, is more suitable in such a specific base configuration. To support the analysis of this problem, general relationships between displacements computed in elastic datum and in fixed datum are provided. They are followed by auxiliary relationships derived on the basis of transformation formulae for different computational bases in elastic datum. Furthermore, indices of base separation are proposed which can be helpful in the design of monitoring networks. A test network with simulated mutual displacements of the base subgroups, is used to investigate behaviour of the network with the fixed and the elastic datum being applied. Also, practical guidelines are given concerning data processing procedures for such specific monitoring networks. For big separation of base subgroups a non-routine procedure is recommended, aimed at facilitating specialist interpretation of monitoring results.