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Impact of GPS antenna phase center models on zenith wet delay and tropospheric gradients

Abstract

Today Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) tropospheric products, such as zenith total delays (ZTD) and zenith wet delays (ZWD), are widely used as complementary data sets in numerical weather prediction models. In particular, the wet delays are treated as unknown parameters in GNSS processing and are estimated with other parameters such as station coordinates. In this study, we investigate the effects of Phase Center Correction (PCC) models on ZWD, integrated water vapor (IWV) and horizontal gradients derived from Global Positioning System (GPS) observations. Two solutions were generated using the GAMIT software over the European Reference Frame (EUREF) Permanent GNSS Network (EPN). The first (reference) solution was derived by applying the International GNSS Service (IGS) type-mean PCC models, while for the second solution PCC models from individual calibrations were used. The solutions were generated identically, except for the PCC model differences. The tropospheric products from the two solutions were then compared, with the assumption that common signals would be differenced out. The comparison of the two solutions clearly shows a bias in all tropospheric products, which can be attributed to PCC model deficiencies. Overall, mean biases of 1.8, 0.3, 0.14 and 0.19 mm are evident in ZWD, IWV, North–South and East–West gradients, respectively. Moreover, the differences between the two solutions show seasonal variations. For all antenna types, the ZWD and IWV differences are dominated by white plus power-law noise, with the latter characterizing the low-frequency spectrum. On the other hand, the horizontal gradients exhibit a white plus first-order autoregressive noise characteristic with less than 1% white noise. The individual PCC model provides a better fit to an external independent model in terms of gradient estimates and also provides up to 3% more carrier phase integer ambiguity resolution.

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Acknowledgements

Mr Ejigu is grateful to Wolkite University, Ethiopia, for providing computer facilities and working space. Dr Hunegnaw and Mr Abraha were funded by the University of Luxembourg SGSL project and the Fonds National de la Recherche (FNR) Luxembourg MGLTM project (Grant# 6835562), respectively. GPS data and products used in this study were retrieved form the EPN at http://www.epncb.oma.be/ and IGS archives. The GPS data were analyzed using the GAMIT software package version 10.6. We are grateful to Jan Dousa at the Geodetic Observatory Pecny, Czech Republic, for providing the ERA-Interim derived ZTD and gradient time series data. We also acknowledge tropospheric gradients parameters estimated at the Nevada Geodetic Laboratory for external validation. The Generic Mapping Tools (GMT) version 5 software is used for preparing most of the figures. We are also grateful to the two anonymous reviewers for their constructive suggestions during the review of this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Yohannes Getachew Ejigu.

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Ejigu, Y.G., Hunegnaw, A., Abraha, K.E. et al. Impact of GPS antenna phase center models on zenith wet delay and tropospheric gradients. GPS Solut 23, 5 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10291-018-0796-9

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Keywords

  • GPS
  • Antenna phase center corrections
  • Zenith wet delay
  • Integrated water vapor
  • Tropospheric gradients