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    Solid earth sciences


    Troposphere delay modeling in SLR based on PMF, VMF3o, and meteorological data

    Mateusz Drożdżewski, Krzysztof SośnicaMateusz Drożdżewski, Krzysztof Sośnica

    Troposphere delay, Satellite laser ranging, Geocenter coordinates, Earth rotation parameters, Horizontal gradients

    Satellite laser ranging (SLR) requires accurate troposphere delay models to properly correct the observed distances to satellites and derive fundamental geodetic and geodynamic parameters. The currently used models for the tropospheric delay employ in situ meteorological data collected simultaneously with laser measurements. However, the standard models assume full symmetry of the atmosphere above the SLR stations because all meteorological data come from one sensor. In this study, we evaluate various methods of troposphere delay modeling based on numerical weather models, such as the Potsdam Mapping Function (PMF) and Vienna Mapping Function for optical frequencies (VMF3o), in situ measurements, the Wrocław gradient model (WGM) and the combination of different models. We found large discrepancies between pressure, temperature, and humidity records between in situ measurements and numerical models. The best results for the zenith delays are obtained when using in situ meteorological data with the estimation of tropospheric biases. For stations with some deficiencies in proper humidity measurements, e.g., Zimmerwald in Switzerland, the best results are obtained when using hydrostatic zenith delays based on in situ data and wet delays based on numerical weather models. Finally, we found that using horizontal gradients of the tropospheric delay is indispensable to avoid biases in the SLR-based Earth rotation parameters of approximately 20 μ as for polar motion. The horizontal gradients successfully account for the asymmetry of the troposphere above SLR stations and can be derived from PMF, VMF3o, or a parameterized WGM model with similar accuracies.