Independent Assessment of ITRF Site Velocities using GPS Imaging
Wednesday, 16 December 2015: 15:10
2002 (Moscone West)
The long-term stability of ITRF is critical to the most challenging scientific applications such as the slow variation of sea level, and of ice sheet loading in Greenland and Antarctica. In 2010, the National Research Council recommended aiming for stability at the level of 1 mm/decade in the ITRF origin and scale. This requires that the ITRF include many globally-distributed sites with motions that are predictable to within a few mm/decade, with a significant number of sites having collocated stations of multiple techniques. Quantifying the stability of ITRF stations can be useful to understand stability of ITRF parameters, and to help the selection and weighting of ITRF stations.
Here we apply a new suite of techniques for an independent assessment of ITRF site velocities. Our “GPS Imaging” suite is founded on the principle that, for the case of large numbers of data, the trend can be estimated objectively, automatically, robustly, and accurately by applying non-parametric techniques, which use quantile statistics (e.g., the median). At the foundation of GPS Imaging is the estimator “MIDAS” (Median Interannual Difference Adjusted for Skewness). MIDAS estimates the velocity with a realistic error bar based on sub-sampling the coordinate time series. MIDAS is robust to step discontinuities, outliers, seasonality, and heteroscedasticity. Common-mode noise filters enhance regional- to continental-scale precision in MIDAS estimates, just as they do for standard estimation techniques. Secondly, in regions where there is sufficient spatial sampling, GPS Imaging uses MIDAS velocity estimates to generate a regionally-representative velocity map. For this we apply a median spatial filter to despeckle the maps.
We use GPS Imaging to address two questions: (1) How well do the ITRF site velocities derived by parametric estimation agree with non-parametric techniques? (2) Are ITRF site velocities regionally representative? These questions aim to get a handle on (1) the accuracy of ITRF site velocities as a function of characteristics of contributing station data, such as number of step parameters and total time span; and (2) evidence of local processes affecting site velocity, which may impact site stability. Such quantification can be used to rank stations in terms the risk that they may pose to the stability of ITRF.