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The Earth's surface is an almost perfect sphere. Deviations from its spherical shape are less than 0,4% of its radius and essentially arise from its rotation. All equipotential surfaces are nearly spherical, too. In consequence, multiscale modelling of geoscientifically relevant data on the sphere involving rotational symmetry of the trial functions used for the approximation plays an important role. In this paper we deal with isotropic kernel functions showing local support and (one-dimensional) polynomial structure (briefly called isotropic finite elements) for reconstructing square--integrable functions on the sphere. Essential tool is the concept of multiresolution analysis by virtue of the spherical up function. The main result is a tree algorithm in terms of (low--order) isotropic finite elements.

We will give explicit differentiation and integration rules for homogeneous harmonic polynomial polynomials and spherical harmonics in IR^3 with respect to the following differential operators: partial_1, partial_2, partial_3, x_3 partial_2 - x_2 partial_3, x_3 partial_1 - x_1 partial_3, x_2 partial_1 - x_1 partial_2 and x_1 partial_1 + x_2 partial_2 + x_3 partial_3. A numerical application to the problem of determining the geopotential field will be shown.

The mathematical formulation of many physical problems results in the task of inverting a compact operator. The only known sensible solution technique is regularization which poses a severe problem in itself. Classically one dealt with deterministic noise models and required both the knowledge of smoothness of the solution function and the overall error behavior. We will show that we can guarantee an asymptotically optimal regularization for a physically motivated noise model under no assumptions for the smoothness and rather weak assumptions on the noise behavior which can mostly obtained out of two input data sets. An application to the determination of the gravitational field out of satellite data will be shown.

Using a stereographical projection to the plane we construct an O(N log(N)) algorithm to approximate scattered data in N points by orthogonal, compactly supported wavelets on the surface of a 2-sphere or a local subset of it. In fact, the sphere is not treated all at once, but is split into subdomains whose results are combined afterwards. After choosing the center of the area of interest the scattered data points are mapped from the sphere to the tangential plane through that point. By combining a k-nearest neighbor search algorithm and the two dimensional fast wavelet transform a fast approximation of the data is computed and mapped back to the sphere. The algorithm is tested with nearly 1 million data points and yields an approximation with 0.35% relative errors in roughly 2 minutes on a standard computer using our MATLAB implementation. The method is very flexible and allows the application of the full range of two dimensional wavelets.

In the field of gravity determination a special kind of boundary value problem respectively ill-posed satellite problem occurs; the data and hence side condition of our PDE are oblique second order derivatives of the gravitational potential. In mathematical terms this means that our gravitational potential \(v\) fulfills \(\Delta v = 0\) in the exterior space of the Earth and \(\mathscr D v = f\) on the discrete data location which is on the Earth's surface for terrestrial measurements and on a satellite track in the exterior for spaceborne measurement campaigns. \(\mathscr D\) is a first order derivative for methods like geometric astronomic levelling and satellite-to-satellite tracking (e.g. CHAMP); it is a second order derivative for other methods like terrestrial gradiometry and satellite gravity gradiometry (e.g. GOCE). Classically one can handle first order side conditions which are not tangential to the surface and second derivatives pointing in the radial direction employing integral and pseudo differential equation methods. We will present a different approach: We classify all first and purely second order operators \(\mathscr D\) which fulfill \(\Delta \mathscr D v = 0\) if \(\Delta v = 0\). This allows us to solve the problem with oblique side conditions as if we had ordinary i.e. non-derived side conditions. The only additional work which has to be done is an inversion of \(\mathscr D\), i.e. integration.