Published on 27 May 2022
Most of us probably wouldn’t normally associate Earth’s gravity field with climate – we would think of it as the fundamental force of nature that keeps our planet in orbit around the Sun and what holds our world together. However, the strength of our gravity field varies from place to place, and some of these tiny variations are actually linked to aspects of our planet that are connected to climate change.
Variations in the gravity field are due to a number of factors such as the rotation of Earth, the position of mountains and ocean trenches and variations in the density of Earth's interior. But smaller variations in time and location are due to other factors such as fluctuations in underground water reservoirs and changes in ice mass.
So having a really precise model of the gravity field and being able to show change over time is important for understanding issues such as the dwindling freshwater resources, the loss of ice mass from ice sheets and glaciers and sea-level change, which are symptomatic of the climate crisis.