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As a first approximation the Earth is a sphere; as a second approximation it may be considered an ellipsoid of revolution. The deviations of the actual Earth's gravity field from the ellipsoidal 'normal' field are so small that they can be understood to be linear. The splitting of the Earth's gravity field into a 'normal' and a remaining small 'disturbing' field considerably simplifies the problem of its determination. Under the assumption of an ellipsoidal Earth model high observational accuracy is achievable only if the deviation (deflection of the vertical) of the physical plumb line, to which measurements refer, from the ellipsoidal normal is not ignored. Hence, the determination of the disturbing potential from known deflections of the vertical is a central problem of physical geodesy. In this paper we propose a new, well-promising method for modelling the disturbing potential locally from the deflections of the vertical. Essential tools are integral formulae on the sphere based on Green's function of the Beltrami operator. The determination of the disturbing potential from deflections of the vertical is formulated as a multiscale procedure involving scale-dependent regularized versions of the surface gradient of the Green function. The modelling process is based on a multiscale framework by use of locally supported surface curl-free vector wavelets.

This work is dedicated to the wavelet modelling of regional and temporal variations of the Earth's gravitational potential observed by GRACE. In the first part, all required mathematical tools and methods involving spherical wavelets are introduced. Then we apply our method to monthly GRACE gravity fields. A strong seasonal signal can be identified, which is restricted to areas, where large-scale redistributions of continental water mass are expected. This assumption is analyzed and verified by comparing the time series of regionally obtained wavelet coefficients of the gravitational signal originated from hydrology models and the gravitational potential observed by GRACE. The results are in good agreement to previous studies and illustrate that wavelets are an appropriate tool to investigate regional time-variable effects in the gravitational field.