Your behavior appears to be a little unusual. Please verify that you are not a bot.


FIG workshop delves into Great Lakes, highlights GNSS techniques

August 4, 2021  - By
Image: FrankRamspott/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Image: FrankRamspott/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

In one of my previous columns, I described the National Geodetic Survey’s (NGS) plans for replacing the North American Vertical Datum of 1988 (NAVD 88) with the North American-Pacific Geopotential Datum of 2022 (NAPGD2022).

As stated in the NOAA Technical Report NOS NGS 64 Blueprint for the Modernized NSRS, Part 2: Geopotential Coordinates and Geopotential Datum, November 2017, recently revised in February 2021, orthometric heights in NAPGD2022 will be defined through ellipsoid heights and GEOID2022. This means NAPGD2022 orthometric heights will primarily be accessed through GNSS technology.

Like NAPGD2022, in the next update of the International Great Lakes Datum, denoted as IGLD (2020), the heights in the Great Lakes Region will be developed from GNSS and a gravity model. Unlike NAPGD2022, where users will be estimating GNSS-derived orthometric heights, IGLD (2020) users will be estimating GNSS-derived dynamic heights using GNSS and a gravity model.

As president of the American Association for Geodetic Surveying (AAGS), I participated in the International Federation of Surveyors (FIG) Virtual Working Week 2021 held June 20–25. For those unfamiliar with AAGS, some activities AAGS pursues are below.

AAGS Activities

  • Promote a better understanding of geodesy as a science;
  • Create a better appreciation of the value of geodetic surveys and thus encourage greater use of such surveys;
  • Promote geodetic surveys by individuals, government, and private organizations;
  • Foster the adoption of uniform standards and procedures for completing geodetic surveys;
  • Promote the processing, publishing, and disseminating of geodetic survey data and information;
  • Promote programs for testing, calibrating, and evaluating geodetic equipment;
  • Further the development and implementation of the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) for geodetic, land surveying, and land information system applications;
  • Inform the membership of new technical developments by meetings of the association and publications in Surveying and Land Information Science (SaLIS);
  • Promote educational programs in geodesy, geodetic surveying, and related fields;
  • Cooperate with other similar organizations, both national and international, in support of the science of geodesy;
  • Encourage the use of geodetic surveys and mathematical coordinate systems in establishing Public Land Survey System (PLSS) corners

As stated above, AAGS cooperates with other similar organizations, both national and international, in support of the science of geodesy. AAGS is a voting member of FIG, which means AAGS has the opportunity to nominate and vote for elected officials, and develop policy that is important to all surveyors and mappers.

On a side note, AAGS is always looking for new members that want to help promote geodetic surveying and related topics. 

The theme of the FIG Working Week 2021 virtual conference was “Smart Surveyors for Land and Water Management: Challenges in a New Reality.” FIG Commission 5 focuses on meeting the highest level of accuracy for positioning and measurement (see box titled FIG Commission 5). Five 90-minute sessions described some of the efforts of FIG Commission 5.

FIG Commission 5

“FIG Commission 5 focuses on meeting the highest level of accuracy for positioning and measurement. It provides the tools, techniques and procedures to educate and train surveying professionals everywhere. Appropriate methodology for data collection and processing are required to be successful in an era of global, integrated geospatial data.”

These sessions raised surveyor awareness of cutting-edge technology, techniques and procedures for using geodetic data and enhanced global cooperation and standardization in conformance with the ideals expressed by the United Nations resolution for a Global Geodetic Reference Frame.  There were many good papers on positioning and measurement presented at the virtual meeting.  Readers can obtain a list of presentations and papers at this website.

A paper by Jacob Heck, U.S National Geodetic Survey, and Michael Craymer, Canada Geodetic Survey titled “Updating the International Great Lakes Datum: Enabling the Integration of Water and Land Management in the Great Lakes Region” should be of interest to many U.S. and Canadian surveyors. The box below provides a link to the abstract, paper, handouts and video of the presentation.

Commission 4 and 5 Joint Session

Tuesday,
22 June
15:00–16:30
STAGES
05.1 – Managing the Land/Water Interface: WGS84 vs. the ITRS
Commission: 4 and 5
Chair: Dr. Mohd Razali Mahmud, FIG Commission 4 Chair, Malaysia
Rapporteur: Dr. Daniel Roman, FIG Commission 5 Chair, United State

Jacob Heck (U.S.) and Michael Craymer (Canada):

Updating the International Great Lakes Datum: Enabling the Integration of Water and Land Management in the Great Lakes Region (11046)
[abstract] [paper] [handouts] [video]

I encourage everyone to download the paper and obtain an understanding of the future International Great Lakes Datum of 2020.

The International Great Lakes Datum uses dynamic heights instead of orthometric heights traditionally used for elevations on land.  Figure 4 from Heck and Craymer’s FIG paper, illustrates the difference between orthometric and dynamic heights.  See box titled “Figure 4 from FIG Paper by Heck and Craymer.”  As described by Heck and Craymer, “The dynamic height represents the difference in potential above the reference surface and is the same at all points on a level surface. Orthometric height represents the actual physical distance above the reference surface which may change due to differences in gravity caused by the convergence of equipotential surfaces toward to the poles. Dynamic heights are therefore required for the proper management of water levels and flows in compliance with international regulations and treaties.”

Figure 4 from FIG paper by Heck and Craymer

Figure 4. Dynamic heights,HD, and orthometric heights, H. (from FIG 2021 paper by Heck and Craymer)

Figure 4. Dynamic heights,HD, and orthometric heights, H. (from FIG 2021 paper by Heck and Craymer)

I would like to highlight, as described in the paper and stated in the summary, that access to the future IGLD will be primarily through GNSS techniques.

Summary from paper by Heck and Craymer

The International Great Lakes Datum provides a framework for water level management in the world’s foremost resource of surface freshwater. The current datum, IGLD (1985), is being updated and replaced by IGLD (2020). This updated datum will be fundamentally different in terms of definition and access to the datum. The datum will be identical to the new NAPGD2022 North American geopotential datum and will be compatible with the existing CGVD2013 (if not identical as well) at the reference epoch of 2020. IGLD (2020) is expected to be released in 2025 at about the same time as NAPGD2022. Access to both frames will be primarily through GNSS techniques. This will lead to more consistent heights across the entire Great Lakes region. Further information about the IGLD update can be found on the Coordinating Committee website.

This new paradigm is important for anyone who works in the Great Lakes region. Actually, it is important to anyone that surveys in the United States, because this new paradigm will also be used to access the North American-Pacific Geopotential Datum of 2022 (NAPGD2022). Anyone following my columns knows this is the future, and that the National Geodetic Survey (NGS) is leading the way in the United States by modernizing the National Spatial Reference System (NSRS).

Another section that I’d like to highlight is in the box titled “Excerpt from Heck and Craymer Paper on IGLD.”

Excerpt from Heck and Craymer Paper on IGLD

For IGLD (2020), the geoid height, N, will be provided by GEOID2022 which will be used to define NAPGD2022 and the expected update to CGVD2013. IGLD (2020) dynamic heights will therefore be equivalent to dynamic heights in NAPGD2022 and CGVD2013 at the 2020 reference epoch. For IGLD (2020) heights of water levels, hydraulic correctors may also need to be applied.

An important advancement in the development of the new IGLD and North American datums will be the availability of an accurate crustal velocity model that can propagate ellipsoidal heights between different reference epochs. This will enable heights determined at any epoch to be propagated back to the adopted 2020 reference epoch used for IGLD (2020). This will effectively obviate the need to update the entire IGLD datum for the effects of GIA for a much longer period of time, except for incremental improvements to the velocity model and updates to the reference epoch.

It’s important for users to know that the IGLD (2020) dynamic heights will be equivalent to dynamic heights in NAPGD2022, and an accurate crustal velocity model will be used at any epoch to propagate back to the adopted 2020 reference epoch.  The box titled “Determining Heights in IGLD (2020)” is an excerpt from Heck and Craymer’s FIG paper that describes the process that will be implemented for estimating GNSS-derived dynamic heights in the updated IGLD (2020).

Determining Heights in IGLD 2020

In previous realizations of IGLD, spirit leveling was used to determine geopotential numbers which were converted directly to orthometric heights that could then be converted to dynamics heights using equation 4 (𝐻𝐷 =𝐶/𝛾45).

In the geoid-based IGLD (2020), heights will be primarily determined through GNSS techniques which provide a direct measure of ellipsoidal height. Although spirit leveling is more accurate over shorter distances, GNSS methods combined with an accurate geoid model are capable of providing more accurate heights over moderate to longer distances at a small fraction of the cost of leveling.

An orthometric height, H, above the geoid is obtained from a GNSS-derived ellipsoidal height, h, above the reference ellipsoid using the geoid height or undulation, N, of the geoid above the reference ellipsoid. This is represented by the simple equation:

𝐻 = ℎ − 𝑁   (5)

Using equations (2) – (5), the dynamic height can be obtained from the GNSS-derived ellipsoidal height using:

𝐻𝐷 =(𝑔̅ ∗ (ℎ − 𝑁))/𝛾45   (6)

For IGLD (2020), the geoid height, N, will be provided by GEOID2022 which will be used to define NAPGD2022 and the expected update to CGVD2013. IGLD (2020) dynamic heights will therefore be equivalent to dynamic heights in NAPGD2022 and CGVD2013 at the 2020 reference epoch. For IGLD (2020) heights of water levels, hydraulic correctors may also need to be applied.

An important advancement in the development of the new IGLD and North American datums will be the availability of an accurate crustal velocity model that can propagate ellipsoidal heights between different reference epochs. This will enable heights determined at any epoch to be propagated back to the adopted 2020 reference epoch used for IGLD (2020). This will effectively obviate the need to update the entire IGLD datum for the effects of GIA for a much longer period of time, except for incremental improvements to the velocity model and updates to the reference epoch.

As stated by Heck and Craymer, hydraulic correctors may also need to be applied to meet IGLD (2020) International policies, procedures and regulations. Information on IGLD (1985) hydraulic correctors can be found on NGS Geodetic Tool Kit Page.

Another paper presented at FIG Working Week that would be of interest to surveyors is a paper on establishing a geoid-based vertical datum given by Dan Roman, Chief Geodesist at NGS (see the box below). Again, the abstract, paper, handouts and video can be downloaded from the link.

FIG paper Determining an Optimal Geoid-based Vertical Datum by Dan Roman

Tuesday,
22 June
15:00–16:30
STAGES
05.1 – Managing the Land/Water Interface: WGS84 vs. the ITRS
Commission: 4 and 5
Chair: Dr. Mohd Razali Mahmud, FIG Commission 4 Chair, Malaysia
Rapporteur: Dr. Daniel Roman, FIG Commission 5 Chair, United State

Roman Daniel (USA):
Determining an Optimal Geoid-Based Vertical Datum (10876)
[abstract] [paper] [handouts] [video]

Roman discusses the concept of establishing an International Height Reference System (IHRS) so all countries could provide physical heights across their boundaries and over the oceans (see the boxes titled “Excerpt from FIG Paper by Dan Roman” and “Summary from FIG Paper by Dan Roman “).  I’ve highlighted several sections that are important to establishing a IHRS.

Excerpt from FIG Paper by Dan Roman

2.3 International Height Reference System (IHRS)

The IHRS is relatively recent compared to the ITRS. Ihde et al. (2017) discussed plans for unification of heights globally, which were updated more recently in Sanchez et al (2021). Just as ITRF realizations are made within the ITRS, there will be IHRF realizations made within the IHRS. The key concept here is that positions will first be realized in the ITRS and then expressed in the IHRS. This means that GNSS-accessed geodetic coordinates will determine your position in a realization of the ITRF. Using those ITRF coordinates, geopotential values will be determined from an equivalent IHRF model based above a datum of W0 = 62,636,853.4 m2 s-2. This effectively gives your position in the Earth’s gravity field, which is a physical height. In adopting such a model then, all countries might provide consistent physical heights across their national boundaries and over the oceans.

Summary from FIG Paper by Dan Roman

There is a great deal of activity in modernizing how geospatial data are collected, processed and maintained globally. International agreements are in place to have everyone adopt the Global Geodetic Reference Frame to facilitate geospatial data transfer. The approach will be to realize coordinates in the International Terrestrial Reference Frame and then obtain physical heights from the International Height Reference Frame. Countries may adopt any realization of the ITRF but are restricted to a single geopotential value in the IHRF – W0 = 62,636,853.4 m2 /s2. If comparisons to local tide gauges demonstrate this is not optimum for national definitions of a vertical datum, then an alternate geopotential datum can be determined based on an approach that requires supplemental information.

GNSS-observations on multiple tide gauges will establish local Mean Sea Level and any variations due to Topography of the Sea Surface. A model of the TSS would be required to remove TSS effects at tide gauges to determine the geodetic coordinates of MSL. Use of a geopotential model enhanced by locally obtained gravity data would yield the geopotential number(s) at tide gauge(s). Assuming multiple tide gauges, then an average or some statistical analysis might be made to determine the optimal geopotential value to select as a geoid.

NGS’s new modernized NSRS will be compatible with the concept of an International Height Reference Frame.  As stated in Roman’s paper, a recent article by Laura Sanchez, et.al, describes a strategy for the realization of the IHRS (see box below.)

Excerpt from Strategy for the realisation of the International Height Reference System (IHRS)

Authors: Laura Sánchez, Jonas Ågren, Jianliang Huang, Yan Ming Wang, Jaakko Mäkinen, Roland Pail, Riccardo Barzaghi, Georgios S. Vergos, Kevin Ahlgren and Qing Liu1

Abstract

In 2015, the International Association of Geodesy defined the International Height Reference System (IHRS) as the conventional gravity field-related global height system. The IHRS is a geopotential reference system co-rotating with the Earth.

Coordinates of points or objects close to or on the Earth’s surface are given by geopotential numbers C(P) referring to an equipotential surface defined by the conventional value W0 = 62,636,853.4 m2 s−2, and geocentric Cartesian coordinates X referring to the International Terrestrial Reference System (ITRS). Current efforts concentrate on an accurate, consistent, and well-defined realisation of the IHRS to provide an international standard for the precise determination of physical coordinates worldwide. Accordingly, this study focuses on the strategy for the realisation of the IHRS; i.e. the establishment of the International Height Reference Frame (IHRF). Four main aspects are considered: (1) methods for the determination of IHRF physical coordinates; (2) standards and conventions needed to ensure consistency between the definition and the realization of the reference system; (3) criteria for the IHRF reference network design and station selection; and (4) operational infrastructure to guarantee a reliable and long-term sustainability of the IHRF. A highlight of this work is the evaluation of different approaches for the determination and accuracy assessment of IHRF coordinates based on the existing resources, namely (1) global gravity models of high resolution, (2) precise regional gravity field modelling, and (3) vertical datum unification of the local height systems into the IHRF. After a detailed discussion of the advantages, current limitations, and possibilities of improvement in the coordinate determination using these options, we define a strategy for the establishment of the IHRF including data requirements, a set of minimum standards/conventions for the determination of potential coordinates, a first IHRF reference network configuration, and a proposal to create a component.

There’s a very good presentation on the International Height Reference System and International Height Reference Frame (IHRF) given by Laura Sánchez at the “Workshop for the Implementation of the GGRF in Latin America” held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Sep 16–20, 2019.

To support the implementation of IHRF, FIG Commission 5 has a working group that focuses on Vertical Reference Frames. See box below.

FIG Working Group 5.3

Vertical Reference Frames

Policy Issues

    • Educate FIG member agencies on current and future status of regional and global vertical reference frames and height systems
    • Educate FIG member agencies on practical aspects about the implementation of new geopotential datums including:
      • access using geoid height models and a geometric datum
  • redefining heights on existing bench marks to serve as secondary control
  • ties between height systems and local and global mean sea level
  • Develop and expand relationships in IAG Commission 2, UN SCOG, and WG focused on implementing vertical control based on IHRF around the world.
    • IAG will develop an IHRF that will be a component of the UN GGRF.
    •  UN GGRF will encompass both ITRF and IHRF
    • Time varying aspects of the geoid, vertical control and the gravity field must be addressed.

Chair

David Avalos-Naranjo, Mexico
david.avalos@inegi.org.mx

I have highlighted several statements in the box titled “FIG Working Group 5.3.”  This working group is focused on issues associated with implementing vertical control based on an International Height Reference Frame (IHRF). NGS is working with these groups to ensure that the United States height system will be compatible with the rest of the world.

I encourage everyone to visit the FIG website and explore the papers given during 2021 FIG Working Week. Here is a list of the FIG Commissions. For more information can be obtained on each commission by clicking on the Commission’s title.

FIG Commissions

Commission 1 – Professional Standards and Practice

Commission 2 – Professional Education

Commission 3 – Spatial Information Management

Commission 4 – Hydrography

Commission 5 – Positioning and Measurement

Commission 6 – Engineering Surveys

Commission 7 – Cadastre and Land Management

Commission 8 – Spatial Planning and Development

Commission 9 – Valuation and the Management of Real Estate

Commission 10 – Construction Economics and Management

Before the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM) disbanded, the four-member organization collaborated to convene annual surveying and mapping conferences in the United States. Topics similar to those presented at FIG Working Week were presented at these conferences. I became a member of ACSM in 1972 and learned a lot from attending and participating in these conferences.

Since these ACSM conferences are no longer being held, I encourage users of geospatial data and GNSS technology to participate in professional societies such as AAGS to enhance their understanding and knowledge of new technical developments in the field of geospatial positioning and measurement. As the current president of AAGS, I am biased, but a benefit of AAGS membership is access to the Surveying and Land Information Science (SaLIS) journal that publishes new technological developments related to geodesy, surveying, and mapping.

About the Author:


Senior Editor Tracy Cozzens joined GPS World magazine in 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.

Comments are currently closed.