Geoid mapThis multi-coloured image is actually the Earth – and shows how gravity varies on different parts of the globe.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ik8FNwPlf3U&rel=0]

It unveiled by the team behind the GOCE satellite at a conference in Munich and is the most accurate ever released.

The ‘geoid’ map, as it is known, is used to illustrate how oceans would look in the absence of currents or tides.

The bright yellow colours show gravity at its strongest, while it is at its weakest in the blue areas.

After just two years in orbit, ESA’s GOCE satellite has gathered enough data to map Earth’s gravity with unrivalled precision. Scientists now have access to the most accurate model of the ‘geoid’ ever produced to further our understanding of how Earth works.

The new geoid was unveiled today at the Fourth International GOCE User Workshop hosted at the Technische Universität München in Munich, Germany. Media representatives and scientists from around the world have been treated to the best view yet of global gravity.

The geoid is the surface of an ideal global ocean in the absence of tides and currents, shaped only by gravity. It is a crucial reference for measuring ocean circulation, sea-level change and ice dynamics – all affected by climate change.

Prof. Reiner Rummel, former Head of the Institute for Astronomical and Physical Geodesy at the Technische Universität München, said, “We see a continuous stream of excellent GOCE gradiometry data coming in. With each new two-month cycle, our GOCE gravity field model is getting better and better.

[esa]