Towards an International Height Reference Frame Using Clock Networks

authored by
Hu Wu, Jürgen Müller

Establishing an International Height Reference Frame (IHRF) has been a major goal of the International Association of Geodesy (IAG) for a long time. One challenge is to obtain the vertical coordinates, i.e., geopotential numbers, of the reference stations with high precision and global consistency. A promising approach is using clock networks, which are powerful in precisely obtaining geopotential or height differences between distant sites through measuring the gravitational redshift effect by comparing clocks’ frequencies. We propose a hybrid clock network following a specific hierarchy. It includes stationary clocks as the backbone of the frame and transportable clocks for regional densifications. The vertical coordinates of the clock stations can be straightforwardly referenced to the unique benchmark by various long-distance frequency transfer techniques, like using optical fibers or free-space microwave and laser links via relay satellites. Another practical way towards an IHRF is to unify all local height systems around the world. Clock networks are considered as an alternative to classical geodetic methods. The idea was verified through closed-loop simulations. We found that the measurements acquired by a few 10

−18 clocks, three or four in triangular or quadrangular distributions for each local system, are sufficient to adjust the discrepancies between local datums and the systematic slopes within local height networks.

Institute of Geodesy
No. of pages
Publication date
Publication status
Peer reviewed
ASJC Scopus subject areas
Computers in Earth Sciences, Geophysics
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