, Volume 79, Issue 10-11, pp 613-623

Multi-technique comparison of tropospheric zenith delays derived during the CONT02 campaign

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Abstract

In October 2002, 15 continuous days of Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) data were observed in the Continuous VLBI 2002 (CONT02) campaign. All eight radio telescopes involved in CONT02 were co-located with at least one other space-geodetic technique, and three of them also with a Water Vapor Radiometer (WVR). The goal of this paper is to compare the tropospheric zenith delays observed during CONT02 by VLBI, Global Positioning System (GPS), Doppler Orbitography Radiopositioning Integrated by Satellite (DORIS) and WVR and to compare them also with operational pressure level data from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF). We show that the tropospheric zenith delays from VLBI and GPS are in good agreement at the 3–7 mm level. However, while only small biases can be found for most of the stations, at Kokee Park (Hawaii, USA) and Westford (Massachusetts, USA) the zenith delays derived by GPS are larger by more than 5 mm than those from VLBI. At three of the four DORIS stations, there is also a fairly good agreement with GPS and VLBI (about 10 mm), but at Kokee Park the agreement is only at about 30 mm standard deviation, probably due to the much older installation and type of DORIS equipment. This comparison also allows testing of different DORIS analysis strategies with respect to their real impact on the precision of the derived tropospheric parameters. Ground truth information about the zenith delays can also be obtained from the ECMWF numerical weather model and at three sites using WVR measurements, allowing for comparisons with results from the space-geodetic techniques. While there is a good agreement (with some problems mentioned above about DORIS) among the space-geodetic techniques, the comparison with WVR and ECMWF is at a lower accuracy level. The complete CONT02 data set is sufficient to derive a good estimate of the actual precision and accuracy of each geodetic technique for applications in meteorology.