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Using Models of the Ocean's Mean Dynamic Topography to Identify Errors in Coastal Geodetic Levelling

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Identifying errors (blunders and systematic errors) in coastal geodetic levelling networks has often been problematic, primarily for two reasons. First, mean sea level (MSL) at tide gauges cannot be directly compared to height differences from levelling because the geoid/quasigeoid and MSL are not parallel, being separated by the ocean's mean dynamic topography (MDT). Second, there is a the lack of redundancy at the edge of the levelling network. This article sets out a methodology to independently identify blunders and/or systematic errors (over long distances) in geodetic levelling using MDT models to account for the separation between the geoid/quasigeoid and MSL at tide gauges. This method is then tested in a case study using an oceanographic MDT model, MSL observations, GNSS data, and a quasigeoid model. The results are significant because the errors found could not be detected by standard levelling misclosure checks alone, with supplementary data from an MDT model, with cross-validation from GNSS-quasigeoid allowing their detection. In addition, it appears that an oceanographic-only MDT is as effective as GNSS and a quasigeoid model for detecting levelling errors, which could be particularly useful for countries with coastal levelling errors in their levelling networks that cannot be identified by conventional levelling closure checks.
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Keywords: Australia; coastal mean dynamic ocean topography; geodetic levelling; geoid; mean sea level

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Western Australian Centre for Geodesy and The Institute for Geoscience Research, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Australia

Publication date: January 2, 2014

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