GPS Solutions

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 703–713 | Cite as

Estimation and evaluation of real-time precipitable water vapor from GLONASS and GPS

  • Cuixian Lu
  • Xingxing LiEmail author
  • Maorong Ge
  • Robert Heinkelmann
  • Tobias Nilsson
  • Benedikt Soja
  • Galina Dick
  • Harald Schuh
Original Article


The revitalized Russian GLONASS system provides new potential for real-time retrieval of zenith tropospheric delays (ZTD) and precipitable water vapor (PWV) in order to support time-critical meteorological applications such as nowcasting or severe weather event monitoring. In this study, we develop a method of real-time ZTD/PWV retrieval based on GLONASS and/or GPS observations. The performance of ZTD and PWV derived from GLONASS data using real-time precise point positioning (PPP) technique is carefully investigated and evaluated. The potential of combining GLONASS and GPS data for ZTD/PWV retrieving is assessed as well. The GLONASS and GPS observations of about half a year for 80 globally distributed stations from the IGS (International GNSS Service) network are processed. The results show that the real-time GLONASS ZTD series agree quite well with the GPS ZTD series in general: the RMS of ZTD differences is about 8 mm (about 1.2 mm in PWV). Furthermore, for an inter-technique validation, the real-time ZTD estimated from GLONASS-only, GPS-only, and the GPS/GLONASS combined solutions are compared with those derived from very long baseline interferometry (VLBI) at colocated GNSS/VLBI stations. The comparison shows that GLONASS can contribute to real-time meteorological applications, with almost the same accuracy as GPS. More accurate and reliable water vapor values, about 1.5–2.3 mm in PWV, can be achieved when GLONASS observations are combined with the GPS ones in the real-time PPP data processing. The comparison with radiosonde data further confirms the performance of GLONASS-derived real-time PWV and the benefit of adding GLONASS to stand-alone GPS processing.


GLONASS Zenith tropospheric delay Precipitable water vapor Real-time precise point positioning VLBI Radiosonde 



We acknowledge IGS for providing the GPS and GLONASS data, IVS for providing the VLBI data, and NOAA for the online provision of radiosonde data. One of the authors (C. Lu) is supported by the China Scholarship Council, which is gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cuixian Lu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Xingxing Li
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Maorong Ge
    • 1
  • Robert Heinkelmann
    • 1
  • Tobias Nilsson
    • 1
  • Benedikt Soja
    • 1
  • Galina Dick
    • 1
  • Harald Schuh
    • 1
  1. 1.German Research Centre for Geosciences GFZPotsdamGermany
  2. 2.Wuhan UniversityWuhanChina

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