**Are you an EPFL student looking for a semester project?**

Work with us on data science and visualisation projects, and deploy your project as an app on top of Graph Search.

Concept# Physical geodesy

Summary

Physical geodesy is the study of the physical properties of Earth's gravity and its potential field (the geopotential), with a view to their application in geodesy.
Traditional geodetic instruments such as theodolites rely on the gravity field for orienting their vertical axis along the local plumb line or local vertical direction with the aid of a spirit level. After that, vertical angles (zenith angles or, alternatively, elevation angles) are obtained with respect to this local vertical, and horizontal angles in the plane of the local horizon, perpendicular to the vertical.
Levelling instruments again are used to obtain geopotential differences between points on the Earth's surface. These can then be expressed as "height" differences by conversion to metric units.
Gravity is commonly measured in units of m·s−2 (metres per second squared). This also can be expressed (multiplying by the gravitational constant G in order to change units) as newtons per kilogram of attracted mass.
Potential is expressed as gravity times distance, m2·s−2. Travelling one metre in the direction of a gravity vector of strength 1 m·s−2 will increase your potential by 1 m2·s−2. Again employing G as a multiplier, the units can be changed to joules per kilogram of attracted mass.
A more convenient unit is the GPU, or geopotential unit: it equals 10 m2·s−2. This means that travelling one metre in the vertical direction, i.e., the direction of the 9.8 m·s−2 ambient gravity, will approximately change your potential by 1 GPU. Which again means that the difference in geopotential, in GPU, of a point with that of sea level can be used as a rough measure of height "above sea level" in metres.
Geoid
Due to the irregularity of the Earth's true gravity field, the equilibrium figure of sea water, or the geoid, will also be of irregular form. In some places, like west of Ireland, the geoid—mathematical mean sea level—sticks out as much as 100 m above the regular, rotationally symmetric reference ellipsoid of GRS80; in other places, like close to Sri Lanka, it dives under the ellipsoid by nearly the same amount.

Official source

This page is automatically generated and may contain information that is not correct, complete, up-to-date, or relevant to your search query. The same applies to every other page on this website. Please make sure to verify the information with EPFL's official sources.

Related publications (11)

Related concepts (16)

Related courses (3)

Related lectures (24)

Vertical position

Vertical position or vertical location is a position along a vertical direction above or below a given vertical datum (reference level). Vertical distance or vertical separation is the distance between two vertical positions. Many vertical coordinates exist for expressing vertical position: depth, height, altitude, elevation, etc. Points lying on an equigeopotential surface are said to be on the same vertical level, as in a water level.

Levelling

Levelling or leveling (American English; see spelling differences) is a branch of surveying, the object of which is to establish or verify or measure the height of specified points relative to a datum. It is widely used in geodesy and cartography to measure vertical position with respect to a vertical datum, and in construction to measure height differences of construction artifacts. Optical levelling, also known as spirit levelling and differential levelling, employs an optical level, which consists of a precision telescope with crosshairs and stadia marks.

Dynamic height

Dynamic height is a way of specifying the vertical position of a point above a vertical datum; it is an alternative for orthometric height or normal height. It can be computed by dividing the location's geopotential number by the normal gravity at 45 degree latitude (a constant). Dynamic height is constant if one follows the same gravity potential as one moves from place to place. Because of variations in gravity, surfaces having a constant difference in dynamic height may be closer or further apart in various places.

ENV-140: Fundamentals of geomatics

Bases de la géomatique pour les ingénieur·e·s civil et en environnement. Présentation des méthodes d'acquisition, de gestion et de représentation des géodonnées. Apprentissage pratique avec des méthod

PHYS-100: Advanced physics I (mechanics)

La Physique Générale I (avancée) couvre la mécanique du point et du solide indéformable. Apprendre la mécanique, c'est apprendre à mettre sous forme mathématique un phénomène physique, en modélisant l

ENV-340: Fundamentals of satellite positioning

Bases des références géodésiques, principe de mesure utilisé en localisation par satellites et de l'estimation de la qualité de positions GNSS (Global Navigation Satellites Systems).

Basic concepts: digital elevation modelMOOC: Geographical Information Systems 2

Discusses the important role of relief in spatial analysis.

Earth Dynamics: Center of Mass Movement

Covers advanced physics topics related to Earth dynamics and the Foucault pendulum experiment.

Coordinate Transformation and Satellite Tracking

Explores coordinate transformation, satellite tracking, GPS signals, and receiver systems, including practical exercises and study of scientific articles.

The goal of this thesis is to explore the "neglected" third dimension of layered materials, by studying the interlayer charge dynamics through dc conductivity, optical spectroscopy and ab-initio calculations. This project was designed to respond to the gro ...

Experiments on the lower limbs are the only approaches being used to study how hypogravity (HG) (0 < g < 1, e.g., Moon: 1/6 g, Mars: 3/8 g) affects human movement. The goal of this study was to expand this field experimentally by investigating the effect o ...

Philippe Renaud, David Vincent Bonzon

The pipetting of small volumes, typically ranging between a few and one thousand microliters (mu l), is widely used in many laboratories and essentially relies on air displacement to aspirate and dispense the liquid contained in a small plastic tip. While ...