TERRAPUB Earth, Planets and Space

Earth Planets Space, Vol. 52 (No. 11), pp. 901-905, 2000


Real-time national GPS networks: Opportunities for atmospheric sensing

Randolph H. Ware1, David W. Fulker1, Seth A. Stein2, David N. Anderson3, Susan K. Avery3, Richard D. Clark4, Kelvin K. Droegemeier5, Joachim P. Kuettner1, J. Minster6, and Soroosh Sorooshian7

1University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO 80307-3000, U.S.A.
2Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, U.S.A.
3University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, U.S.A.
4Millersville University of Pennsylvania, Millersville, PA, U.S.A.
5University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK, U.S.A.
6University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, CA, U.S.A.
7University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, U.S.A.

(Received November 14, 1999; Revised June 13, 2000; Accepted June 13, 2000)

Abstract: Real-time national Global Positioning System (GPS) networks are being established in a number of countries for atmospheric sensing. UCAR, in collaboration with participating universities, is developing one of these networks in the United States. The network, named "SuomiNet" to honor meteorological satellite pioneer Verner Suomi, is funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation. SuomiNet will exploit the recently-shown ability of ground-based GPS receivers to make thousands of accurate upper and lower atmospheric measurements per day. Phase delays induced in GPS signals by the ionosphere and neutral atmosphere can be measured with high precision simultaneously along up to a dozen GPS ray paths in the field of view. These delays can be converted into total electron content (TEC), and integrated water vapor (if surface pressure data or estimates are available), along each GPS ray path. The resulting continuous, accurate, all-weather, real-time upper and lower atmospheric data create a variety of opportunities for atmospheric research. In this letter we describe SuomiNet, its applications, and the opportunity to coordinate national real-time GPS networks to create a global network with larger scientific and operational potential.

Corresponding author E-mail: ware@ucar.edu

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