Abstract

A simple approach to estimating vertically integrated atmospheric water vapor, or precipitable water, from Global Positioning System (GPS) radio signals collected by a regional network of ground-based geodetic GPS receiver is illustrated and validated. Standard space geodetic methods are used to estimate the zenith delay caused by the neutral atmosphere, and surface pressure measurements are used to compute the hydrostatic (or “dry”) component of this delay. The zenith hydrostatic delay is subtracted from the zenith neutral delay to determine the zenith wet delay, which is then transformed into an estimate of precipitable water. By incorporating a few remote global tracking stations (and thus long baselines) into the geodetic analysis of a regional GPS network, it is possible to resolve the absolute (not merely the relative) value of the zenith neutral delay at each station in the augmented network. This approach eliminates any need for external comparisons with water vapor radiometer observations and delivers a pure GPS solution for precipitable water. Since the neutral delay is decomposed into its hydrostatic and wet components after the geodetic inversion, the geodetic analysis is not complicated by the fact that some GPS stations are equipped with barometers and some are not. This approach is taken to reduce observations collected in the field experiment GPS/STORM and recover precipitable water with an rms error of 1.0–1.5 mm.

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