IceBridge BGM-3 Gravimeter L2 Geolocated Free Air Anomalies

This data set contains free air anomalies measurements taken over Antarctica using the BGM-3 Gravimeter. The data were collected by scientists working on the Investigating the Cryospheric Evolution of the Central Antarctic Plate (ICECAP) project, which is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) with additional support from NASA Operation IceBridge.

Operation IceBridge products may include test flight data that are not useful for research and scientific analysis. Test flights usually occur at the beginning of campaigns. Users should read flight reports for the flights that collected any of the data they intend to use. Check IceBridge campaign Flight Reports for dates and information about test flights.

Table of Contents

  1. Contacts and Acknowledgments
  2. Detailed Data Description
  3. Data Access and Tools
  4. Data Acquisition and Processing
  5. References and Related Publications
  6. Document Information

Citing These Data

As a condition of using this data, you must cite the use of this data set using the following citation. For more information, see our Use and Copyright Web page.

Blankenship, Donald D., Duncan Young, Thomas G. Richter, and Jamin S. Greenbaum. 2011, updated 2014. IceBridge BGM-3 Gravimeter L2 Geolocated Free Air Anomalies. [indicate subset used]. Boulder, Colorado USA: NASA DAAC at NSIDC.



Basler BT-67 DC-3T


BGM-3 Gravimeter

Spatial Coverage

East Antarctica

Spatial Resolution

7.9 km

Temporal Coverage

08 January 2009 to 12 December 2011

Temporal Resolution



Free Air Anomalies

Data Format

Space-delimited ASCII text (.txt)

Metadata Access

View Metadata Record

Get Data



IceBridge Portal: Tool to visualize, search, and download IceBridge data.

Reverb: NASA search and order tool for subsetting, reprojecting, and reformatting data.

1. Contacts and Acknowledgments

Investigator(s) Name and Title

Donald D. Blankenship, Duncan Young, Thomas G. Richter, Jamin S. Greenbaum
University of Texas at Austin
Institute for Geophysics
Austin, TX, 78759-8500

Technical Contact

NSIDC User Services
National Snow and Ice Data Center
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO 80309-0449  USA
phone: +1 303.492.6199
fax: +1 303.492.2468
form: Contact NSIDC User Services


Funding: NASA's Operation Ice Bridge (grant NNX11AD33G) to the University of Texas at Austin. 2008 campaign data were acquired pre-IceBridge.

2. Detailed Data Description


The data files are in space-delimited ASCII text format, with a header offset by # leading characters, corresponding to the NASA Aerogeophysical ASCII data standard. Each data file is paired with an associated XML file. The XML files contain location, platform, and instrument metadata.

File and Directory Structure

Data are available on the FTP site in the Within this directory, the folders are organized by date, for example /2011.12.20/. Each folder contains .txt and associated .xml files.

File Naming Convention

Files are named according to the following convention and as described in Table 1:



Table 1. Naming Convention
Variable Description
IGBGM2 File name prefix indicating IceBridge BGM-3 Gravimeter L2 Geolocated Free Air Anomalies
YYYY Four-digit year of survey
DOY Day of year of survey
AAA Geographic area
JKBnx Host platform
XXXX Geographic track line
grvfld Gravity field
.xxx Indicates ASCII text file (.txt), or XML file (.xml)

File Size

The data files range from approximately 21 KB to 842 KB.

XML files range from approximately 10 KB to 54 KB.


The entire data set is approximately 68 MB.

Spatial Coverage

These data were primarily collected over the Wilkes Subglacial Basin and Aurora Subglacial Basin in East Antarctica.

Spatial coverage for this data set is Antarctica, represented by this extent:

Southernmost Latitude: 90° S
Northernmost Latitude: 53° S
Westernmost Longitude: 180° W
Easternmost Longitude: 180° E

Spatial Resolution

Smaller features are progressively suppressed due to low pass filtering to create final output. The filter used has a half amplitude point at 185 second wave period corresponding to about a 7.9 km wide gravity feature. For much of the survey, the distance to the gravity anomaly sources due to ice thickness precludes significantly smaller observable features.

Projection and Grid Description

WGS-84 ellipsoid; ITRF 2008

Temporal Coverage

These data were collected from 08 January 2009 to 12 December 2011 as part of ICECAP, NSF, NERC, and Operation IceBridge funded campaigns.

The BGM-3 instrument was not flown during the Antarctica 2012 campaign.

Note: 2008 campaign data were acquired pre-IceBridge.

Temporal Resolution

ICECAP campaigns were conducted on an annual basis. East Antarctic campaigns for this data set typically extend from November to early January.

Parameter or Variable

Parameter Description

The BGM-3 Gravimeter L2 Geolocated Free Air Anomalies data files contain fields as described in Table 2.

Table 2. File Parameter Description
Parameter Description Units
YEAR Year of survey UTC
DOY Day of Year of survey UTC
SOD Second of day UTC
LON Longitude Decimal degrees WGS-84
LAT Latitude Decimal degrees WGS-84
GRV Free Air Gravity Disturbance (WGS-84) mGal
AC-ELEVATION Aircraft elevation Meters WGS-84

Sample Data Record

Figure 1 shows the first ten data records from the data file IGBGM2_2011346_TOT_JKB2e_Y25a_grvfld.txt

sample data record

Figure 1. Sample Data Record

3. Data Access and Tools

Get Data

Data are available via:



IceBridge Portal: Tool to visualize, search, and download IceBridge data.

Reverb: NASA search and order tool for subsetting, reprojecting, and reformatting data.

Software and Tools

No special tools are required for the ASCII text files.

4. Data Acquisition and Processing

Theory of Measurements

This data set was created using the current standard techniques of use for stabilized platform airborne scalar gravimeters. The gravimeter consists of a high sensitivity accelerometer which is kept vertical via a gimbaled platform. Carrier phase GPS is recorded and post processed to determine the accelerations on the gravimeter which are due to aircraft motions. The vertical accelerations due to aircraft motions are subtracted from the vertical accelerations observed by the gravimeter to create a residual signal which consists of the measured acceleration due to gravity contaminated with noise and deterministic non-gravitational accelerations. This residual is corrected for known meter characteristics and other non-gravitational deterministic effects (Eotvos, etc.) then low pass filtered to produce the best estimate of the actual gravitational acceleration values.

Data Acquisition Methods

Gravity was measured using BGM-3 gravity meter 203 on loan from the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency's Geodetic Survey division, St. Louis, MO.

The output of the gravimeter consists of accelerations measured in real time. These accelerations are recorded at a rate of 1 Hz by the external data recording system which time stamps the data as they are acquired and recorded.

Dual frequency carrier phase GPS data were recorded separately for use in the gravity data processing.

Derivation Techniques and Algorithms

Trajectory and Attitude Data

The aircraft trajectory data is available in the position and height data included in the data records. These data were derived from post-processed carrier phase GPS records. Aircraft attitude data is available in the IPUTG1B data set listed above.

Processing Steps

Data were processed using dual carrier phase GPS solutions to estimate aircraft vertical and horizontal accelerations.

Horizontal tilts of the stabilized platform were estimated using the equations of motion of the platform and horizontal accelerations derived from GPS positions. These tilts were used to derive tilt corrections to the vertical accelerations measured by the gravimeter.

A finite impulse response low-pass filter with half amplitude frequency point of 0.0054 Hz (185 seconds) was used to smooth the resulting data.

Data were automatically edited based on maximum allowed platform tilt and maximum allowed unfiltered acceleration variance thresholds. Very little manual editing was performed on the results which passed automatic editing.

The final result is the disturbance from the WGS-84 model for the global gravity field.

Free Air Correction used the following formula: (0.3087691) − (0.0004398*sin(LAT)2 * AC_ELEVATION) − (7.2125e-8 * (AC_ELEVATION2)).

No continuation or leveling has been applied to the data.

Missing values have been replaced by "nan".

Version History

On 02 July, 2013, the V01 2009, 2010, and 2011 Antarctica data were replaced by V01.1. V01.1 data files include UTC timestamps and re-ordered fields.

Error Sources

In Antarctica 2009, the primary platform failed after ICP2/F06 (J316/2009) and was replaced for ICP2/F12 (J331/2009).

In Antarctica 2010, the gravity meter suffered from drift issues, and the sensor cable was replaced post season.

Full leveling corrections have not yet been performed for the Antarctica 2010 dataset, and a further release is expected.

Quality Assessment

The RMS of random error implied by crossover statistics is about 3.6 milligal. This is without the application of leveling algorithms.

Sensor or Instrument Description

Gravity was measured using BGM-3 gravity meter 203, on loan from the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency's Geodetic Survey division, St. Louis, MO.

The BGM-3 is a two-axis stabilized platform system which uses an inertial grade accelerometer as the vertical acceleration sensor. Integrated acceleration data is recorded at 1 Hz by an external data acquisition device.

5. References and Related Publications

Holt, J. W., T. G. Richter, S. D. Kempf, D. L. Morse, and D. D. Blankenship. 2006. Airborne Gravity Over Lake Vostok and Adjacent Highlands of East Antarctica, Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 7:Q11,012, doi:10.1029/2005GC001177.

Swain, C.J. 1996. Horizontal Acceleration Corrections in Airborne Gravimetry. Geophysics, 61(1):273-276.

Related Data Collections

Related Web Sites

6. Document Information

Acronyms and Abbreviations

The acronyms used in this document are listed in Table 3.

Table 3. Acronyms and Abbreviations
Acronym Description
ASCII American Standard Code for Information Interchange
BGM Bell Gravity Meter
CIRES Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Science
FTP File Transfer Protocol
GPS Global Positioning System
ICECAP International Collaborative Exploration of the Cryosphere through Airborne Profiling
IMU Inertial Measurement Unit
L2 Processing Level-2
NASA National Aeronautics and Space Administration
NERC Natural Environment Research Council
NSF National Science Foundation
NSIDC National Snow and Ice Data Center
URL Uniform Resource Locator
UTC Universal Time Code
WGS-84 World Geodetic System 1984

Document Creation Date

04 February 2015

Document Revision Date


Document URL