Estimating Canadian vertical datum offsets using GNSS/levelling benchmark information and GOCE global geopotential models

T. Hayden 1 , B. Amjadiparvar 1 , E. Rangelova 1 , and M.G. Sideris 1
  • 1 Department of Geomatics Engineering, University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive NW, Calgary, AB, T2N 1N4, Canada


The performance of GOCE-based geopotential models is assessed for the estimation of offsets for three regional vertical datums in Canada with respect to a global equipotential surface using the GNSS benchmarks from the first-order vertical control network. Factors that affect the computed value of the local vertical datum offset include the GOCE commission and omission errors, measurement errors, the configuration of the network of GNSS/levelling benchmarks, and systematic levelling errors and distortions propagated through the vertical control network. Among these various factors, the effect of the GOCE omission error on the datum offsets is investigated by extending the models with the high resolution gravity field model EGM2008 and by means of Canada’s official high resolution geoid model CGG2010. The effect of the GOCE commission error in combination with errors from the GNSS/levelling data is also examined, in addition to the effect of systematic levelling errors. In Canada, the effect of the GOCE omission error is at the dm-level when computing local vertical datum offsets. The effect of including accuracy information for the GNSS/levelling data and the GOCE geoid heights can be up to 4 cm over the Canadian mainland and at the dm-level for island regions. Lastly, the spatial tilts found in the levelling network can be modelled with a 2-parameter bias corrector model, which reduces the RMS of the adjusted geoid height differences by 4 cm when compared to the RMS of adjusted geoid height differences computed without the use of a bias corrector model. Thus, when computing local vertical datum offsets in Canada, it is imperative to account for GOCE commission and omission errors, ellipsoidal and levelling height errors, as well as the systematic levelling errors of the vertical control network.

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