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Evaluating mass loading products by comparison to GPS array daily solutions

ABSTRACT

We evaluate the benefit of different global geophysical loading products on the internal scatter of GPS position time-series from 240 globally distributed sites. We focus on the non-tidal atmospheric pressure loading predicted from NASA's Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA-NATML) and the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts operational model (ECMWF-NATML), non-tidal ocean loading predicted from the Ocean Model for Circulation and Tides model (OMCT-NTOL), and the continental water storage loading predicted from the MERRA model (MERRA-CWSL) and the GFZ's Land Surface Discharge Model (LSDM-CWSL), respectively. The result shows that the root mean square (RMS) discrepancy of different CWSL models is larger than that of NATML models in the vertical component due to the varying model parameters and input data choices. We discuss the performance of different loading models and their combination to reduce the weighted RMS of GPS up-coordinates. MERRA-NATML & OMCT-NTOL & MERRA-CWSL reduced the weighted RMS (WRMS) in 96 per cent (JPL solutions) and 86 per cent (SOPAC solutions) of the cases, and ECMWF-NATML & OMCT-NTOL & LSDM-CWSL reduced the WRMS in 95 per cent (JPL solutions) and 88 per cent (SOPAC solutions) of the cases. The result shows that local effects and technical uncertainties in GPS time-series hamper the meaningful comparison between GPS observations and mass loading models. Hence, simply using the RMS of the time-series as the assessment criteria may lead to biased comparison results. Nonetheless, we give a detailed comparison (differences in phase and amplitude at seasonal timescales) for eight representative stations located adjacent to great rivers, lakes and reservoirs. We find that LSDM can provide a complementary model to study the small-scale hydrological loading like loading extremes along river channels. However, such small-scale hydrological loading effects are still instable to be modelled in some regions with its current accuracy. Finally, we discuss the impacts of mass loading corrections on the velocity and noise estimates. The noise reductions have the consistent performance as WRMS reductions for most sites, whereas some sites have their noise increased even though GPS signal WRMS is decreased there, suggesting that our posterior correction is potentially feasible, but not sufficient.