ITRF2005: A new release of the International Terrestrial Reference Frame based on time series of station positions and Earth Orientation Parameters

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Abstract

[1] Unlike the past International Terrestrial Reference Frame (ITRF) versions where global long-term solutions were combined, the ITRF2005 uses as input data time series (weekly from satellite techniques and 24-h session-wise from Very Long Baseline Interferometry) of station positions and daily Earth Orientation Parameters (EOPs). The advantage of using time series of station positions is that it allows to monitor station non-linear motion and discontinuities and to examine the temporal behavior of the frame physical parameters, namely the origin and the scale. The ITRF2005 origin is defined in such a way that it has zero translations and translation rates with respect to the Earth center of mass, averaged by the Satellite Laser Ranging (SLR) time series spanning 13 years of observations. Its scale is defined by nullifying the scale and its rate with respect to the Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) time series spanning 26 years of observations. The ITRF2005 orientation (at epoch 2000.0) and its rate are aligned to the ITRF2000 using 70 stations of high geodetic quality. The estimated level of consistency of the ITRF2005 origin (at epoch 2000.0) and its rate with respect to the ITRF2000 is respectively 0.1, 0.8, 5.8 mm and 0.2, 0.1, 1.8 mm/yr along the X, Y and Z-axis. We estimate the formal errors on these components to be 0.3 mm and 0.3 mm/yr. We believe that this low level of agreement between the two frame origins is most probably due to the poor SLR network geometry and its degradation over time. The ITRF2005 combination involving 84 co-location sites revealed a scale inconsistency of 1 ppb (6.3 mm at the equator), at epoch 2000.0, and 0.08 ppb/yr between the SLR and VLBI long-term solutions as obtained by the stacking of their respective time series. Possible causes of this inconsistency may include the poor SLR and VLBI networks and their co-locations, local tie uncertainties, systematic effects and possible inconsistent model corrections used in the data analysis of both techniques. For the first time of the ITRF history, the ITRF2005 rigorous combination provides self-consistent series of EOPs, including Polar Motion from VLBI and satellite techniques and Universal Time and Length of Day from VLBI only. A velocity field of 152 sites with an error less than 1.5 mm/yr is used to estimate absolute rotation poles of 15 tectonic plates that are consistent with the ITRF2005 frame. This new absolute plate motion model supersedes and significantly improves that of the ITRF2000 which involved six major tectonic plates.

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