Studies of Atmospheric Water Vapor Using the Global Positioning System
Doktorsavhandling, 1998

Atmospheric water vapor is of fundamental interest in the Global Positioning System (GPS) and Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) techniques. These techniques are based on the timing of radio waves propagating through the atmosphere. The received signals are delayed by the water vapor mainly located in the lower part of the atmosphere called the troposphere. In order to achieve accurate positioning, such effects have to be corrected for. This can be done by estimating the delay from the signals themselves. From these results it is possible to derive the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere. The GPS and VLBI techniques can thus be used both for positioning and for determination of the amount of atmospheric water vapor. This thesis deals mainly with the technique to estimate the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere with GPS. Modeling of the atmosphere is treated as well as how to convert the signal delay estimates from GPS to the water vapor amount. The results obtained are assessed through comparisons with independent techniques, such as radiosondes and a microwave radiometer. The results in this thesis show that it is possible to measure the atmospheric water vapor with GPS with an accuracy comparable to techniques presently in use for that purpose. GPS gives, however, a better temporal and spatial resolution as well as being more cost-effective than the present radiosonde launches. This may prove to be useful for the meteorological community, as water vapor is an important factor in numerical weather prediction, and in climate studies since it is one of the most important greenhouse gases. Improved modeling of the water vapor and assessment of the results will also benefit positioning with GPS, which is useful, for example, in the determination of the land uplift after the last glaciation period.

space geodesy

time series analysis




Very Long Baseline Interferometry

atmospheric water vapor

Global Positioning System

microwave radiometry




radio wave propagation

Kalman filtering


T. Ragne Emardson

Chalmers, Institutionen för radio- och rymdvetenskap


Astronomi, astrofysik och kosmologi

Elektroteknik och elektronik



Doktorsavhandlingar vid Chalmers tekniska högskola. Ny serie: 1404

Technical report - School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Chalmers University of Technology, Göteborg, Sweden: 339