Volume 101, Issue B2 p. 3227-3246
Papers on Geodesy and Gravity Tectonophysics

Global mapping functions for the atmosphere delay at radio wavelengths

First published: 10 February 1996
Citations: 993


I have developed expressions for calculating the ratios (mapping functions) of the “line of sight” hydrostatic and wet atmospheric path delays to their corresponding zenith delays at radio wavelengths for elevation angles down to 3°. The coefficients of the continued fraction representation of the hydrostatic mapping function depend on the latitude and height above sea level of the observing site and on the day of the year; the dependence of the wet mapping function is only on the site latitude. By comparing with mapping functions calculated from radiosonde profiles for sites at latitudes between 43°S and 75°N, the hydrostatic mapping function is seen to be more accurate than, and of comparable precision to, mapping functions currently in use, which are parameterized in terms of local surface meteorology. When the new mapping functions are used in the analysis of geodetic very long baseline interferometry (VLBI) data, the estimated lengths of baselines up to 10,400 km long change by less than 5 mm as the minimum elevation of included data is reduced from 12° to 3°. The independence of the new mapping functions from surface meteorology, while having comparable accuracy and precision to those that require such input, makes them particularly valuable for those situations where surface meteorology data are not available.