Writing recently in “GPS World,” Tim Burch, Secretary of the National Society of Professional Surveyors, outlined the increased challenges of using, and problems depending upon, GPS and other satellite navigation systems in high latitudes.

In a July 8, 2016 posting on “GPS World” Burch says:

“The issues GNSS users in higher latitudes face are not only lack of satellite coverage, but several factors of environmental interference within the atmosphere. The result of these conditions and hazards are scintillation, positioning errors and cycle slips. These are very difficult to predict, thus increasing data-collection time and efforts to catch potential errors.

Scintillation occurs when rapid changes in amplitude and phase are observed and directly impacts the signal from the GNSS. Solar radio storms (caused by coronal mass ejection), large- and small-scale ionospheric structures (causing unpredictable values in environmental electrons) and geomagnetic activity (aurora) are also factors that affect signal, create cycle slips, and thus deteriorate the positional accuracy.

Studies performed by several technical teams (including NOAA/NGS) have shown that variations in position occurs often at CORS stations with little or no warning. Ongoing studies are helping to establish potential patterns in the atmospheric intruders, but will require much more analysis.”

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