Sea Level Derived from Reflected GNSS Signals
Poster (konferens), 2011

The traditional way to observe sea level is to use tide gauges, resulting in measurements relative to the Earth’s crust. However, in order to measure the sea-level change due to changes in ocean water volume and/or other oceanographic phenomena, all types of crustal motion at the measurement site need to be known. We present a remote sensing technique for measuring local sea level using standard geodetic-type Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) receivers. The installation consists of a zenith-looking Right Hand Circular Polarized (RHCP) antenna, receiving the direct signals, and a nadir-looking Left Hand Circular Polarized antenna, receiving the signals reflected of the sea surface. Each antenna is connected to a receiver and the antenna pair is deployed back-to-back at a coastal site. Estimating the vertical baseline between the two antennas, using standard geodetic analysis, the local sea level and its temporal variations can be determined. The advantage of this technique is that it allows to measure both sea surface height changes with relative positioning and land surface height changes, e.g., by precise point positioning of the RHCP antenna. Furthermore, the combined measurements of local sea level are automatically corrected for land motion, meaning that this installation could provide continuously reliable sea-level estimates in tectonic active regions. This GNSS-based tide gauge has been operating continuously at the Onsala Space Observatory (OSO) on the west coast of Sweden since September 2010. We present results from several months of operations and compare them to sea-level measurements from two stilling well gauges about 18 km south and 33 km north of OSO. We find a high degree of agreement between the time series with correlation coefficients of larger than 0.95. The root-mean-square differences between the GNSS-derived sea level and the stilling well gauge measurements are 5.9 cm and 5.5 cm, which is lower than between the two stilling well (6.1 cm). Furthermore, we present a tidal analysis of the three independent sea level time series and compare the derived tidal constituents among each other and with respect to theoretical models.

ocean tide analysis

sea level

tide gauge


reflected signals


Johan Löfgren

Chalmers, Rymd- och geovetenskap, Rymdgeodesi och geodynamik

Rüdiger Haas

Chalmers, Rymd- och geovetenskap, Rymdgeodesi och geodynamik

Hans-Georg Scherneck

Chalmers, Rymd- och geovetenskap, Rymdgeodesi och geodynamik

American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting 2011, 5-9 December, San Francisco, USA


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