Calibration errors on experimental slant total electron content (TEC) determined with GPS


The Global Positioning System (GPS) has become a powerful tool for ionospheric studies. In addition, ionospheric corrections are necessary for the augmentation systems required for Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) use. Dual-frequency carrier-phase and code-delay GPS observations are combined to obtain ionospheric observables related to the slant total electron content (sTEC) along the satellite-receiver line-of-sight (LoS). This observable is affected by inter-frequency biases [IFB; often called differential code biases (DCB)] due to the transmitting and the receiving hardware. These biases must be estimated and eliminated from the data in order to calibrate the experimental sTEC obtained from GPS observations. Based on the analysis of single differences of the ionospheric observations obtained from pairs of co-located dual-frequency GPS receivers, this research addresses two major issues: (1) assessing the errors translated from the code-delay to the carrier-phase ionospheric observable by the so-called levelling process, applied to reduce carrier-phase ambiguities from the data; and (2) assessing the short-term stability of receiver IFB. The conclusions achieved are: (1) the levelled carrier-phase ionospheric observable is affected by a systematic error, produced by code-delay multi-path through the levelling procedure; and (2) receiver IFB may experience significant changes during 1 day. The magnitude of both effects depends on the receiver/antenna configuration. Levelling errors found in this research vary from 1.4 total electron content units (TECU) to 5.3 TECU. In addition, intra-day vaiations of code-delay receiver IFB ranging from 1.4 to 8.8 TECU were detected.

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Ciraolo, L., Azpilicueta, F., Brunini, C. et al. Calibration errors on experimental slant total electron content (TEC) determined with GPS. J Geod 81, 111–120 (2007).

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  • Total electron content (TEC)
  • GPS, Inter-frequency bias
  • Differential code bias (DCB)
  • Levelling carrier to code TEC