Strategies to mitigate aliasing of loading signals while estimating GPS frame parameters
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Although GNSS techniques are theoretically sensitive to the Earth center of mass, it is often preferable to remove intrinsic origin and scale information from the estimated station positions since they are known to be affected by systematic errors. This is usually done by estimating the parameters of a linearized similarity transformation which relates the quasi-instantaneous frames to a long-term frame such as the International Terrestrial Reference Frame (ITRF). It is well known that non-linear station motions can partially alias into these parameters. We discuss in this paper some procedures that may allow reducing these aliasing effects in the case of the GPS techniques. The options include the use of well-distributed sub-networks for the frame transformation estimation, the use of site loading corrections, a modification of the stochastic model by downweighting heights, or the joint estimation of the low degrees of the deformation field. We confirm that the standard approach consisting of estimating the transformation over the whole network is particularly harmful for the loading signals if the network is not well distributed. Downweighting the height component, using a uniform sub-network, or estimating the deformation field perform similarly in drastically reducing the amplitude of the aliasing effect. The application of these methods to reprocessed GPS terrestrial frames permits an assessment of the level of agreement between GPS and our loading model, which is found to be about 1.5 mm WRMS in height and 0.8 mm WRMS in the horizontal at the annual frequency. Aliased loading signals are not the main source of discrepancies between loading displacement models and GPS position time series.
KeywordsLoading effects Terrestrial Reference Frame GNSS GPS Geocenter motion
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