SPICE: Environmental space geodesy: detection of changes in glacier mass from time-variable gravity

The primary objective of SPICE is to precisely assess contemporary ice-mass variations of glacier systems (Alps, Alaska, Himalaya, Iceland, Patagonia, etc.) from measurements provided by space gravimetry. Space gravimetry – as realized by the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite mission and by the Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) project – is the only remote sensing technique that allows the direct inference of surface mass changes; access to this information is provided via the temporal variations of the Earth’s gravity field. This project aims to further push the limits of surface mass-variation detection from space, targeting to substantially complement existing glacier change assessments. The outcome of the research will stimulate progress in environmental science and climatology. To successfully accomplish the project tasks, SPICE is based on an interdisciplinary cooperation, involving the (space) geodetic, glaciological und hydrological communities. Project partners:
  • Space Research InstituteAustrian Academy of Sciences, Austria (PI)
  • Institute of Geodesy, Graz University of Technology, Austria (Co-I)
  • Department of Geography, University of Zurich, Switzerland (Co-I)
  • Commission for Geodesy and Glaciology, Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Germany (Co-I)
  • Institute of Geodesy and Geoinformation, University of Bonn, Germany (Co-I)
Project website of the Space Research Institute.


This project is funded by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) within the Austrian Space Applications Programme (ASAP, Phase 11).


Baur O., Sneeuw N. (2011) Assessing Greenland ice mass loss by means of point-mass modeling: a viable methodology. J. Geod. 85: 607-615, doi: 10.1007/s00190-011-0463-1 Baur O. (2013) Parameter estimation by means of genetic algorithms: potential and limitations from a geodetic perspective. Allgemeine Vermessungsnachrichten 120: 203-209 Baur O. (2013) Greenland mass variation from time-variable gravity in the absence of GRACE. Geophys. Res. Lett. 40: 4289-4293, doi: 10.1002/grl.50881
Torsten Mayer-Gürr
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