High-Frequency Sea Level Variations Observed by GPS Buoys Using Precise Point Positioning Technique


In this study, sea level variation observed by a 1-Hz Global Positioning System (GPS) buoy system is verified by comparing with tide gauge records and is decomposed to reveal high-frequency signals that cannot be detected from 6-minute tide gauge records. Compared to tide gauges traditionally used to monitor sea level changes and affected by land motion, GPS buoys provide high-frequency geocentric measurements of sea level variations. Data from five GPS buoy campaigns near a tide gauge at Anping, Tainan, Taiwan, were processed using the Precise Point Positioning (PPP) technique with four different satellite orbit products from the International GNSS Service (IGS). The GPS buoy data were also processed by a differential GPS (DGPS) method that needs an additional GPS receiver as a reference station and the accuracy of the solution depends on the baseline length. The computation shows the average Root Mean Square Error (RMSE) difference of the GPS buoy using DGPS and tide gauge records is around 3 - 5 cm. When using the aforementioned IGS orbit products for the buoy derived by PPP, its average RMSE differences are 5 - 8 cm, 8 - 13 cm, decimeter level, and decimeter-meter level, respectively, so the accuracy of the solution derived by PPP highly depends on the accuracy of IGS orbit products. Therefore, the result indicates that the accuracy of a GPS buoy using PPP has the potential to measure the sea surface variations to several cm. Finally, high-frequency sea level signals with periods of a few seconds to a day can be successfully detected in GPS buoy observations using the Ensemble Empirical Mode Decomposition (EMD) method and are identified as waves, meteotsunamis, and tides.

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