Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Dr. Kristy Tiampo


Horizontal and vertical deformation of the Earth’s crust is due to a variety of different geophysical processes that take place on various spatiotemporal scales. The quality of the observations from spaced-based geodesy instruments such as Global Positioning System (GPS) and differential interferometric synthetic aperture radar (DInSAR) data for monitoring these deformations are dependent on numerous error sources. Therefore, accurately identifying and eliminating the dominant sources of the error, such as troposphere error in GPS signals, is fundamental to obtain high quality, sub-centimeter accuracy levels in positioning results.

In this work, I present the results of double-differenced processing of five years of GPS data, between 2008 and 2012, for sparsely distributed GPS stations in southeastern Ontario and western Québec. I employ Bernese GPS Software Version 5.0 (BSW5.0) and found two optimal sub-networks which can provide high accuracy estimation of the position changes. I demonstrate good agreement between the resulted coordinate time series and the estimates of the crustal motions obtained from a global solution. In addition, I analyzed the GPS position time series by using a complex noise model, a combination of white and power-law noises. The estimated spectral index of the noise model demonstrates that the flicker noise is the dominant noise in most GPS stations in our study area. The interpretation of the observed velocities suggests that they provide an accurate constraint on glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA) prediction models.

Based on a deeper analysis of these same GPS stations, I propose a model that accurately estimates the seasonal amplitude of zenith tropospheric delay (ZTD) error in the GPS data on local and regional spatial scales. I process the data for the period 2008 through 2012 from eight GPS stations in eastern Ontario and western Québec using precise point positioning (PPP) online analysis available from Natural Resource Canada (NRCan) (https://webapp.geod.nrcan.gc.ca/geod/tools-outils/ppp.php). The model is an elevation-dependent model and is a function of the decay parameter of refractivity with altitude and the seasonal amplitude of refractivity computed from atmospheric data (pressure, temperature, and water vapor pressure) at a given reference station. I demonstrate that it can accurately estimate the seasonal amplitude of ZTD signals for the GPS stations at any altitude relative to that reference station. Based on the comparison of the observed seasonal amplitudes of the differenced ZTD at each station and the estimates from the proposed model, it can provide an accurate estimation for the stations under normal atmospheric conditions. The differenced ZTD is defined as the differences of ZTD derived from PPP at each station and ZTD at the reference station. Moreover, I successfully compute a five-year precipitable water vapor (PWV) at each GPS site, based on the ZTD derived from meteorological data and GPS processing. The results provide an accurate platform to monitor long-term climate changes and inform future weather predictions.

In an extension of this research, I analyze DInSAR data between 2014 and 2017 with high temporal and spatial resolution, from Kilauea volcano in Hawaii in order to derive the spatial and temporal pattern of the seasonal amplitude of ZTD. I propose an elevation-dependent model by the data from a radiosonde station and observations at a surface weather station for modeling the seasonal amplitudes of ZTD at any arbitrary elevation. The results obtained from this model fit the vertical profile of the observed seasonal amplitude of ZTD in DInSAR data, increasing systematically from the elevation of the DInSAR reference point. I demonstrate that the proposed model could be used to estimate the seasonal amplitude of the differenced ZTD at each GPS station within a local network with high accuracy. The results of this study concluded that, employing this model in GPS processing applications eliminates the need for the meteorological observations at each GPS site.