Imputation of GPS coordinate time series using missforest

Shengkai Zhang, Li Gong, Qi Zeng, Wenhao Li, Feng Xiao, Jintao Lei

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The global positioning system (GPS) can provide the daily coordinate time series to help geodesy and geophysical studies. However, due to logistics and malfunctioning, missing values are often “seen” in GPS time series, especially in polar regions. Acquiring a consistent and complete time series is the prerequisite for accurate and reliable statical analysis. Previous imputation studies focused on the temporal relationship of time series, and only a few studies used spatial relationships and/or were based on machine learning methods. In this study, we impute 20 Greenland GPS time series using missForest, which is a new machine learning method for data imputation. The imputation performance of missForest and that of four traditional methods are assessed, and the methods’ impacts on principal component analysis (PCA) are investigated. Results show that missForest can impute more than a 30-day gap, and its imputed time series has the least influence on PCA. When the gap size is 30 days, the mean absolute value of the imputed and true values for missForest is 2.71 mm. The normalized root mean squared error is 0.065, and the distance of the first principal component is 0.013. MissForest outperforms the other compared methods. MissForest can effec-tively restore the information of GPS time series and improve the results of related statistical pro-cesses, such as PCA analysis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2312
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jun 2021


  • GPS time series
  • Imputation
  • MissForest
  • RegEM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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