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Correcting GPS measurements for non-tidal loading

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Non-tidal loading (NTL) deforms the earth’s surface, adding variability to the coordinates of geodetic sites. Yet, according to the IERS Conventions, there are no recommended surface-mass change models to account for NTL deformation in geodetic position time series. We investigate the NTL signal recorded at 585 GPS stations at different frequency bands, from day to years, by comparing GPS estimated displacements to modeled environmental loading. We used up-to-date and high-resolution (both temporal and spatial) models to account for NTL induced by mass changes in the atmosphere, oceans, and continental hydrology. Vertical land motions variability is reduced on average by up to 20% when correcting the series for non-tidal atmospheric and oceanic loading, employing either barotropic or baroclinic ocean models. We then focus on characterizing the ocean response to air-pressure variations, and we observe that there are no significant differences at seasonal timescales between a barotropic ocean model forced by air pressure and winds and a more classical baroclinic ocean model forced by wind, heat and freshwater fluxes. However, any of these choices further reduces the variability by 5% compared to the classical static inverted barometer ocean response. The variability of the vertical coordinate changes is further reduced by an additional 5% by also correcting for continental hydrology loading, especially at seasonal periods. For horizontal coordinate changes, the variability is reduced by less than 5% after correcting for all studied surface-mass changes.

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Antarctic Circumpolar Current


Center of figure


Dynamic non-tidal atmospheric and oceanic loading


Doppler orbitography and radiopositioning integrated by satellite


Estimating the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean


European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts


East land motion


General circulation model


Global Land Data Assimilation System


Global Ocean ReanalYsis and Simulation


Global Positioning System


Inverted barometer


International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service


Modern Era Retrospective-Analysis


National Centers for Environmental Prediction


North land motion


Non-tidal atmospheric loading


Non-tidal atmospheric and oceanic loading


Non-tidal loading


Non-tidal oceanic loading


Ocean general circulation model


Root mean square


Satellite laser ranging


Standard deviation


Toulouse Unstructured Grid Ocean model


Very long baseline interferometry


Vertical land motion


Weighted root mean square


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This work has been partly funded by the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) through the TOSCA program. The work was initiated while AM was supported by an Australian Research Council Super Science Fellowship (FS110200045). ASG was supported by a FP7 Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellowship (project number 330103). All loading time series are available at the EOST/IPGS loading service (http://loading.u-strasbg.fr). We acknowledge M. Gravel for providing GPS time series from the ULR6 solutions. We also thank Florent Lyard (LEGOS, Toulouse, France) for providing the TUGO-m model.

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Correspondence to Anthony Mémin.

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Mémin, A., Boy, J. & Santamaría-Gómez, A. Correcting GPS measurements for non-tidal loading. GPS Solut 24, 45 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10291-020-0959-3

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  • GPS
  • Non-tidal loading
  • Vertical land motion
  • Deformation