JWG 1.4: Understanding the relationship of terrestrial reference frames for GIA and sea-level studies

(Joint with Commission 3)

Chair: Tilo Schöne (Germany)

Terms of Reference

The combination and assimilation of GNSS information into Glacial Isostatic Adjustment (GIA) models, the correction of GIA effects on altimetry or tide gauges, or combined studies using information from the different sources requires a common understanding of the individual reference frame realizations.

Today the ITRF realization and their respective updates form the basis for the individual space geodetic techniques. But, in every researcher’s daily life, individual realizations are used. For example, the IGS time series are in a respective IGS frame realization close to ITRF, or satellite orbits for radar altimetry are using DORIS-augmented frames. GIA models employ their own ITRF-independent reference.

Many studies now use information or combinations of the above techniques with the different reference frame realizations. This leads to inconsistencies and misinterpretations. This project is proposed to evaluate the different reference frame realizations. The focus will be on the reference frame realizations in GNSS, DORIS, radar altimetry, and GIA modelling.


  • To provide a reference document for GNSS, DORIS, and radar altimetry satellite missions that indentifies discrepancies in the reference frames.

  • To suggest implementation/combination schemes, where possible.

Program of Activities

  • Review the individual radar altimetry and satellite missions with the following goals:

  • Evaluate the type of reference frames;

  • Evaluate the handling of loading tides and conventions used;

  • Evaluate time-variable gravity field effects in orbit determination;

  • Possibly extend results to the use of geocentre motion for sea level studies.

  • Review the GNSS reference frame realizations

  • Review ITRF2008/IGS08 realization (IGS repro, TIGA)

  • Evaluate handling of loading tides, and other conventions

  • Review the DORIS reference frame realization

  • Review in view of the realizations used in RA processing for satellites carrying DORIS;

  • Evaluate the handling of loading tides and conventions used.

  • Review the reference frame realization in GIA models.


Matt King (United Kingdom)

Pascal Willis (France)

Sergei Rudenko (Germany)

Daniela Thaller (Germany)

Christopher Watson (Australia)

Xiaoping Wu (USA)

Xavier Collilieux (France)

Tonie van Dam (Luxembourg)

Mirko Scheinert (Germany)

Mark Tamisea (United Kingdom)

Erik Ivins (USA)

Maik Thomas (Germany)

Cecep Subarya (Indonesia)

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