GPS Atmosphere Sounding within the Programme Atmosphere and Climate

Since 2004 GFZ has been contributing to the Helmholtz research programme Atmosphere and Climate (ATMO) of the research field Earth and Environment, in close cooperation with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and the Forschungszentrum Jülich. Main objective of ATMO is to gain a better understanding of the role of the atmosphere in the climate system. For this purpose it examines key atmospheric processes by means of sophisticated measurements of atmospheric parameters, laboratory investigations, and numeric modeling.

The main focus of GFZ research in ATMO is the development and application of innovative atmospheric remote sensing techniques, which are based on the use of signals from the Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), as GPS, Galileo, GLONASS, Beidou or QZSS. For this purpose GFZ operates regional and global ground networks of GNSS stations and also dedicated GNSS receivers aboard Low-Earth-Orbiting (LEO) satellites (GRACE, TerraSAR-X, TanDEM-X, GNSS Radio Occultation). Atmospheric parameters, as water vapor or temperature can be derived from these measurements with high accuracy. One of the major advantages of the GNSS sounding techniques compared to other methods is the independency of cloudiness. The GNSS atmospheric data are operationally processed at GFZ and are used by the leading international weather centers to improve regional and global forecasts and are the base for climatological investigations.

The long-term and also very successful work of GFZ in this field is one of the reasons for the current acceptance of the GNSS based atmosphere sounding techniques as an established remote sensing technique with numerous scientific and operational applications. The most prominent example for this is the operational use of GNSS water vapor data at Germany and of globally distributed vertical temperature and water vapor profiles to improve global and regional weather forecasts.

Figure: Overview on GNSS based atmosphere-sounding techniques (click to open)

Key topics:

  • Development and application of innovative atmospheric remote sensing techniques, which are based on the use of signals from the Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), as GPS, Galileo, GLONASS, BeiDou or QZSS
  • Operation of regional and global GNSS ground networks for operational and all-weather determination of the atmospheric water vapor with high temporal resolution
  • Operation (GRACE, TerraSAR-X, TanDEM-X) and usage of dedicated GNSS receivers aboard Low-Earth-Orbiting (LEO) satellites to apply the GNSS Radio Occultation (RO) technique for the derivation of atmospheric parameters, as water vapor or temperature on a global scale
  • Scientific investigations to apply the innovative GNSS atmospheric data in weather forecast, climate research and to improve the accuracy of GNSS positioning solutions

Latest publications:

Beyerle, G., Zus, F. (2017): Open-loop GPS signal tracking at low elevation angles from a ground-based observation site. - Atmospheric Measurement Techniques, 10, pp. 15—34.

Wickert, J. (2017): Fernerkundung der Erdoberfläche mit Navigationssatelliten: GNSS-Reflektometrie. - In: DVW – Gesellschaft für Geodäsie Geoinformation und Landmanagement e.V. (Ed.), GNSS 2017 – Kompetenz für die Zukunft: Beiträge zum 157. DVW-Seminar am 21. und 22. Februar 2017 in Potsdam, (Schriftenreihe des DVW ; 87), Augsburg : Wißner-Verlag, pp. 191—194.

Gao, Z., Zhang, H., Ge, M., Niu, X., Shen, W., Wickert, J., Schuh, H. (2017): Tightly coupled integration of multi-GNSS PPP and MEMS inertial measurement unit data. - GPS Solutions, 21, 2, pp. 377—391.

Kačmařík, M., Douša, J., Dick, G., Zus, F., Brenot, H., Möller, G., Pottiaux, E., Kapłon, J., Hordyniec, P., Václavovic, P., Morel, L. (2017 online): Inter-technique validation of tropospheric slant total delays. - Atmospheric Measurement Techniques, pp. 1—38.

Elgered, G., Wickert, J. (2017): Monitoring of the Neutral Atmosphere. - In: Teunissen, P. J. G., Montenbruck, O. (Eds.), Springer Handbook of Global Navigation Satellite Systems, (Springer Handbooks), Berlin [u.a.] : Springer, pp. 1109—1138.

Zhou, F., Li, X., Li, W., Chen, W., Dong, D., Wickert, J., Schuh, H. (2017): The Impact of Estimating High-Resolution Tropospheric Gradients on Multi-GNSS Precise Positioning. - Sensors, 17, 4.

Zus, F., Deng, Z., Heise, S., Wickert, J. (2017): Ionospheric mapping functions based on electron density fields. - GPS Solutions, 21, 3, pp. 873—885.

Lu, C., Li, X., Zus, F., Heinkelmann, R., Dick, G., Ge, M., Wickert, J., Schuh, H. (2017): Improving BeiDou real-time precise point positioning with numerical weather models. - Journal of Geodesy, 91, 9, pp. 1019—1029.

Lilienthal, F., Jacobi, C., Schmidt, T., de la Torre, A., Alexander, P. (2017): On the influence of zonal gravity wave distributions on the Southern Hemisphere winter circulation. - Annales Geophysicae, 35, pp. 785—798.

Alshawaf, F., Balidakis, K., Dick, G., Heise, S., Wickert, J. (2017): Estimating trends in atmospheric water vapor and temperature time series over Germany. - Atmospheric Measurement Techniques, 10, pp. 3117—3132.

Ning, T., Wang, J., Elgered, G., Dick, G., Wickert, J., Bradke, M., Sommer, M. (2016): The uncertainty of the atmospheric integrated water vapour estimated from GNSS observations. - Atmospheric Measurement Techniques, 9, pp. 79—92.

Vey, S., Güntner, A., Wickert, J., Blume, T., Ramatschi, M. (2016): Long-term soil moisture dynamics derived from GNSS interferometric reflectometry: a case study for Sutherland, South Africa. - GPS Solutions, 20, 4, pp. 641—654.

Liu, Y., Ge, M., Shi, C., Lou, Y., Wickert, J., Schuh, H. (2016): Improving integer ambiguity resolution for GLONASS precise orbit determination. - Journal of Geodesy, 90, 8, pp. 715—726.

Lu, C., Zus, F., Ge, M., Heinkelmann, R., Dick, G., Wickert, J., Schuh, H. (2016): Tropospheric delay parameters from numerical weather models for multi-GNSS precise positioning. - Atmospheric Measurement Techniques, 9, pp. 5965—5973.

Heinkelmann, R., Willis, P., Deng, Z., Dick, G., Nilsson, T., Soja, B., Zus, F., Wickert, J., Schuh, H. (2016): Multi-technique comparison of atmospheric parameters at the DORIS co-location sites during CONT14. - Advances in Space Research, 58, 12, pp. 2758—2773.


Profile photo of  Prof. Dr. Jens Wickert

Prof. Dr. Jens Wickert
Space Geodetic Techniques

Building A 17, room 20.03
14473 Potsdam
tel. +49 331 288-1758

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