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Geopotential Height

Other Names



Geopotential is the potential energy acquired by unit mass on being raised through unit distance in a field of gravitational force of unit strength. The Geopotential meter is related to the Dynamic meter by the expression one geopotential meter=0.98 dynamic meter. It is roughly the height of a pressure surface in the atmosphere above mean sea level.

The equation which defines the relationship between geopotential height (Z) and geometric height (z) is Z=gz/980. Thus when gravity g has its near average value of 980 cm/sec2, heights in geopotential meters and and geometric meters are the same; for g < 980 cm/sec2 the height in geopotential meters is the smaller, for g > 980 cm/sec2 it is bigger.

Geopotential (from the dynamic point of view) is a better measure of height in the atmosphere than is geometric height since energy is in general lost or gained when air moves along a geometrically level surface but not when it moves along an equigeopotential surface.

GES DISC Datasets

Quick Search for 'Geopotential Height' with Mirador
Click on the corresponding 'Data access' links in the table below to access products containing specific parameter.

Parameter Units Platform /Instrument Data Products
Begin Date End Date Data Access Doc
Geopotential Height profile
(ground pixel resolution)
meter Aura/MLS 2004-08-08 Current ML2GPH Y
Aura/HIRDLS 2004-07-15 Current HIRDLS2 Y
Geopotential Height profile
(ground pixel resolution, 45 km at nadir)
meter Aqua/AIRS 2002-08-30 Current AIRX2RET Y
Geopotential Height profile
(Daily Averages, Global 1 deg x 1 deg grids)
meter Aura/MLS 2004-08-08 Current   Y
Aqua/AIRS 2002-08-30 Current AIRS Level3 Y
Geopotential Height profile
Global Gridded, at equal intervals of latitude/or equal intervals of time
meter Aura/MLS 2004-08-08 Current   Y
UARS/MLS 1991-09-18 1999-07-28 UARML3AT Y
UARS/Correlative 1991-11-04 1997-08-19 UARZCNMC Y
Nimbus-7/LIMS 1978-10-25 1985-05-01 LIMSN7L2 Y

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Last updated: May 02, 2013 12:19 PM ET