The tidal displacement field at Earth's surface determined using global GPS observations

Linguo Yuan, Benjamin Fong Chao, Xiaoli Ding, Ping Zhong

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


We investigate the 3-D tidal displacement field on Earth's surface recorded globally by 456 continuous global positioning system (GPS) stations of IGS spanning 1996-2011, for eight principal diurnal and semidiurnal tidal constituents. In-phase and quadrature amplitudes of the residual tidal displacements, after removal of an a priori body tide model, are estimated using the precise point positioning (PPP) technique on the daily GPS data; the resultant daily estimates are combined to derive final estimates for each tide at each station. The results are compared with the predictions of eight recent global ocean tide models, separately for coastal (307) and inland (149) stations. We show that GPS can provide tidal displacement estimates accurate to the level of 0.12 mm (horizontal) and 0.24 mm (vertical) for the lunar-only constituents (M2, N2, O1, and Q1) and less favorably for solar-related tidal constituents (S2, K2, K1, and P1), although improved by ambiguity resolution. Most recent ocean tide models fit the GPS estimates equally well on the global scale but do not agree well between them in certain coastal areas, especially for the vertical displacements, suggesting the existence of model uncertainties near shallow seas. The tidal residuals for the inland stations after removing both body tides and ocean tidal loading (OTL) furthermore show clear continental-scale spatial coherence, implying deficiencies of the a priori body tide modeling in catching lateral heterogeneity in elastic as well as inelastic properties in the Earth's deep interior. We assert that the GPS tidal displacement estimates now achieve sufficient accuracy to potentially provide constraints on the Earth's structure.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2618-2632
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2013


  • body tides
  • displacement
  • Earth's structure
  • GPS
  • lateral heterogeneity
  • ocean tidal loading

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science

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