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The Australian National 
Research School of Earth Sciences

Geodynamics and Environmental Geodesy


Research in geodynamics and environmental geodesy encompasses all aspects of deformation of the solid Earth and its fluid envelope, including the development of models of the past ice history of the Earth, the effects of climate change on polar ice sheets, sea level variations, elastic tidal deformation of the Earth and more conventional studies of tectonic deformation through earthquakes, Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar, GPS etc.

Space-geodetic techniques such as the recent Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) mission and JASON-1/2 and Cryosat-2 satellite altimetry mission provide new observations of the changing nature of our planet. We can use these tools to investigate how climate change is affecting the environment, notably changes in sea level, rates of melting of polar ice caps and even ground water storage.

Research Areas

Examples of research undertaken are provided below. Opportunities exist within these and other research areas for students to undertake undergraduate and postgraduate research projects (see project finder)

  • The GRACE Follow On project

    Building capability within Australia to analyse raw space gravity observations .....
  • The effect of climate change on polar ice sheets

    Research includes measuring mass balance changes using space-geodetic techniques .....
  • The melting of past ice sheets

    Ice sheet reconstruction using geomorphological, cosmogenic and geodetic constraints on the timing and amount of melting of the Fennoscandian, Laurentide and Antarctic ice sheets.
  • Present-day sea level change

    Present-day melting of polar ice sheets increases the volume of the oceans, causing increases in sea level. Warming of the oceans causes thermal expansion which also causes changes in sea level. Variations in sea level can be measured through satellite altimetry and tide gauge measurements. Local land movements need to be considered and can be measured through GPS measurements and InSAR.
  • Antarctic GPS Project

    The melting of the Antarctic Ice Sheet over the past 10,000 years has removed a considerable mass from the continent. As a result, the continent rebounds (as would a boat if one removed a load from the bow). The rate of present-day uplift can be measured with GPS and can tell us about how much ice has melted.
  • PNG/Pacific GPS Project

    Papua New Guinea contains every type of tectonic plate boundary and is one of the most seismically active regions in the world. For over a decade we have been measuring continental drift, elastic strain and earthquake deformation, using GPS to quantify locations of plate boundaries and deformation zones.
  • AuScope Gravity Program

    We operate an FG5 Absolute Gravimeter and a several portable tidal gravimeters acquired under the AuScope gravity program. The FG5 is used for monitoring a national network of reference stations, for calibrating and testing relative instruments including the SG, and for other geodynamics projects requiring high precision absolute gravity. The Micro-g LaCoste gPhone relative tidal gravimeters are being used to map the ocean load tide around Australia.
  • Superconducting Gravimeter Site

    At Mt Stromlo we operate one of ~30 superconducting gravimeters worldwide. Highly precise measurements of changes in the Earth's gravity field can be used to learn about the tidal deformation and internal structure of the Earth.
  • Geodesy and Geophysical studies

    Theoretical advances in the analysis of space-geodetic data are undertaken, including:


Are you a student interested in studying at RSES (PhD, Master, Honours)? Find A Geodesy-related Research Project at RSES