Radio Science

Bounding higher-order ionosphere errors for the dual-frequency GPS user



[1] Civil signals at L2 and L5 frequencies herald a new phase of Global Positioning System (GPS) performance. Dual-frequency users typically assume a first-order approximation of the ionosphere index of refraction, combining the GPS observables to eliminate most of the ranging delay, on the order of meters, introduced into the pseudoranges. This paper estimates the higher-order group and phase errors that occur from assuming the ordinary first-order dual-frequency ionosphere model using data from the Federal Aviation Administration's Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) network on a solar maximum quiet day and an extremely stormy day postsolar maximum. We find that during active periods, when ionospheric storms may introduce slant range delays at L1 as high as 100 m, the higher-order group errors in the L1–L2 or L1–L5 dual-frequency combination can be tens of centimeters. The group and phase errors are no longer equal and opposite, so these errors accumulate in carrier smoothing of the dual-frequency code observable. We show the errors in the carrier-smoothed code are due to higher-order group errors and, to a lesser extent, to higher-order phase rate errors. For many applications, this residual error is sufficiently small as to be neglected. However, such errors can impact geodetic applications as well as the error budgets of GPS Augmentation Systems providing Category III precision approach.