Open Access

Real-time national GPS networks: Opportunities for atmospheric sensing

  • Randolph H. Ware1Email author,
  • David W. Fulker1,
  • Seth A. Stein2,
  • David N. Anderson3,
  • Susan K. Avery3,
  • Richard D. Clark4,
  • Kelvin K. Droegemeier5,
  • Joachim P. Kuettner1,
  • J. Minster6 and
  • Soroosh Sorooshian7
Earth, Planets and Space201452:BF03352303

DOI: 10.1186/BF03352303

Received: 14 November 1999

Accepted: 13 June 2000

Published: 24 June 2014

Abstract

Real-time national Global Positioning System (GPS) networks are being established in a number of countries for atmospheric sensing. UCAR, in collaboration with participating universities, is developing one of these networks in the United States. The network, named “SuomiNet” to honor meteorological satellite pioneer Verner Suomi, is funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation. SuomiNet will exploit the recently-shown ability of ground-based GPS receivers to make thousands of accurate upper and lower atmospheric measurements per day. Phase delays induced in GPS signals by the ionosphere and neutral atmosphere can be measured with high precision simultaneously along up to a dozen GPS ray paths in the field of view. These delays can be converted into total electron content (TEC), and integrated water vapor (if surface pressure data or estimates are available), along each GPS ray path. The resulting continuous, accurate, all-weather, real-time upper and lower atmospheric data create a variety of opportunities for atmospheric research. In this letter we describe SuomiNet, its applications, and the opportunity to coordinate national real-time GPS networks to create a global network with larger scientific and operational potential.