A comparison of GPS, VLBI and model estimates of ocean tide loading displacements
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Description: In recent years, Ocean Tide Loading Displacements (OTLD) have been measured using the Global Positioning System (GPS) and Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI). This study assesses the accuracy of GPS measurements of OTLD by comparison with VLBI measurements and estimates derived from numerical ocean tide models. A daily precise point positioning (PPP) analysis was carried out on ~11 years of GPS data for each of 25 sites that have previous OTLD estimates based on data from co-located VLBI sites. Ambiguities were fixed to integer values where possible. The resulting daily estimates of OTLD, at eight principal diurnal and semi-diurnal tidal frequencies, were combined to give GPS measurements of OTLD at each site. The three-dimensional GPS and VLBI measurements of OTLD were compared with estimates computed (by convolution with Green’s functions) from five modern ocean tide models (CSR4.0, FES2004, GOT00.2, NAO99b,TPXO6.2). The GPS / model agreement is shown to be similar to the VLBI / model agreement. In the important radial direction, the GPS / model misfit is shown to be smaller than the VLBI / model misfit for seven of the eight tidal constituents; the exception being the K2 constituent. Fixing of GPS carrier phase ambiguities to integer values resulted in marginal improvement to the GPS / model agreement. Statistically, it is shown there is no significance to the difference between the fit of the GPS and VLBI measurements of OTLD to modelled values. Equally, differences in fit of either the complete set of GPS or VLBI estimates to the five sets of model derived values cannot be identified with statistical significance. It is thus concluded that, overall, we cannot distinguish between GPS and VLBI measurements of OTLD, and that at the global scale, present ocean tide models are accurate to within the current measurement noise of these techniques.