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GNSS and NOAA: Imagine the Possibilities. NOAA-Wide GNSS Workshop Dave Skaggs Research Center Boulder, Colorado October 24-25, 2007. David Zilkoski, Director NOAA’s National Geodetic Survey. 1983 GPS and Its Components: Limited Application of Use. A Limited Number of Satellites

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noaa wide gnss workshop dave skaggs research center boulder colorado october 24 25 2007

GNSS and NOAA: Imagine the Possibilities

NOAA-Wide GNSS WorkshopDave Skaggs Research CenterBoulder, ColoradoOctober 24-25, 2007

David Zilkoski, Director

NOAA’s National Geodetic Survey


1983 GPS and Its Components: Limited Application of Use

  • A Limited Number of Satellites
  • Analysis Centers
  • GPS Receivers
  • NGS began using GPS in 1983. This Macrometer V1000 is the first GPS receiver owned by NOAA.
today s gps and components three major changes
Today’s GPS and Components: Three Major Changes
  • 24 GPS Satellites with Increased Types and Accuracy of Signals
  • Increased Mobility and Usefulness of GPS Receivers

and …


3) Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS)


other constellations










noaa leads igs analysis centers
NOAA Leads IGS Analysis Centers
  • NOAA’s National Geodetic Survey was selected to coordinate International GNSS Service (IGS) analyses for the next four years.
  • NGS was selected out of 10 other IGS analysis centers to perform the main product combination and quality control operations.
  • Products consist of satellite orbits, clocks, and associated Earth orientation parameters.

Image Credit:

today gps is used by many noaa programs
Today – GPS is Used by Many NOAA Programs

NOAA PPBES Programs the benefit from Height Mod:

Coastal & Marine Resources (CMR)

Coral Reef Conservation (COR)

Ecosystem Observations (EOP)

Ecosystem Research (ERP)

Habitat (HAB)

Climate & Ecosystems (CLE)

Climate Observations & Analysis (COA)

Climate Predictions & Projections (CPP)

Coasts, Estuaries, & Oceans (CEO)

Environmental Modeling (MOD)

Hydrology (HYD)

Local Forecasts & Warnings (LFW)

Space Weather (SWX)

Tsunami (TSU)

Aviation Weather (AWX )

Marine Transportation System (MTS)

Marine Weather (MWX)

NOAA Emergency Response (EMR)

Surface Weather (SFC)

Regional Decision Support (RDS)

  • National Hurricane Center
    • Inundation models
  • National Weather Service
    • Tsunamis
    • GPS Ionosphere
    • Weather Models
  • Marine Fisheries
    • SWaPS, Benthic Mapping
  • Ocean and Atmospheric Research
    • Climate Change and Sea Level Rise
    • Atmospheric Models
  • National Ocean Service
    • NWLON (CO-OPS)
    • Digital coasts (CSC)
    • Coastal mapping/shoreline (NGS/Coast survey)
    • Coral Reef Conservation Program (OCRM/NCCOS)
    • Coastal Zone Managers (OCRM)
navigation positioning and docking of noaa s fleet
Navigation, Positioning, and Docking of NOAA’s Fleet
  • GNSS enabled digital displays provide all-weather navigation, positioning, and docking.
  • GNSS provides the foundation for safe operations during adverse weather, such as fog and blinding storms.
  • GNSS real-time navigation and water-level data prevents groundings and collisions with bridges.
gnss helps prevent the destruction of marine environments caused by industry
GNSS Helps Prevent the Destruction of Marine Environments Caused by Industry
  • 98-percent of nation’s tonnage in international commerce moves by sea.
  • Without accurate geodetic information, nautical charts would be riddled errors, accidents, groundings, and spills of hazardous cargo would increase.

Exxon Valdez

gnss and noaa s emergency response
GNSS and NOAA’s Emergency Response
  • GNSS allows NOAA to track the current location and movement of oil spills, which allows for positioning of defensive equipment to protect marine environments.
  • Environmental sensitivity maps and spill-response models help cleanup managers identify the most vulnerable ecological areas near a spill and predict how the spill will respond to weather, current, and tide conditions.
  • GNSS guides emergency responders to disaster areas quickly, accurately, and efficiently.
gnss and weather forecasting
GNSS and Weather Forecasting
  • GNSS is a reliable, low-cost technology for measuring water vapor, which is essential for predicting storms.
gnss guides marine resources in estuarine and coastal wetlands
GNSS Guides Marine Resources in Estuarine and Coastal Wetlands
  • Coastal zone managers are able to make more informed decisions about fisheries programs, stock assessments, algal blooms, and other issues affecting the health and vitality of coastal ecosystems.
gnss and the shallow water positioning system swaps
GNSS and the Shallow Water Positioning System (SWAPS)

SWAPS provides research opportunities to quantify patterns of damage and recovery on shallow coastal habitats, including:

  • The potential for surveying large areas rapidly without the need to deploy divers,
  • The ability to return to specific locations within damaged areas without establishing perimeter tags or markers, and
  • The ability to survey an area remotely without specialized field personnel.

Time Transfer for NLDN

Slide Courtesy of Seth Gutman


“We are harnessing power in the sky to chart a prosperous new course on the ground.”- Vice President and Noble Prize for Peace Recipient Al Gore

How could the future look?

underwater positioning of remote operating vehicles rovs
Underwater Positioning of Remote Operating Vehicles (ROVs)
  • Deep water ROVs return to same location within centimeters.


Longitude: 123° 07' 13'‘ West Latitude: 37° 43' 04''North Elevation: -503 meters


Water Levels Anywhere, Anytime, and Any Place!

  • GNSS on Buoys improve hydrographic charts that translate into improved marine traffic control, safety, and productivity in ports, rivers, and open ocean.


Longitude: 74° 29' 56'‘ West Latitude: 37° 14' 38'' North Elevation: 54 meters

Images Credit: NOAA and

increased efficiency and better environmental stewardship with precision agriculture
Increased Efficiency and Better Environmental Stewardship with Precision Agriculture
  • Onboard computers in farm equipment can regulate the precise mix of chemicals for every square foot based on known soil qualities and GNSS positioning, effectively reducing the amount of fertilizer and pesticides used.
  • Harmful farm runoff, which contaminates watersheds, decreases as position accuracy increases.
  • Crop output can increase as GNSS guided robotic farm equipment can be used 24-7.

Image Credits In Order:,, and USACE

gnss and digital elevation maps dems
GNSS and Digital Elevation Maps (DEMs)
  • With the help of GNSS, more accurate DEMs can be produced to support Community Resiliency efforts by better detecting local relative sea-level rise and water-levels in flood prone areas.
  • DEMs in coastal ecosystems provide a better understanding of a wetland’s ability to serve as a storm-surge buffer.
more accurate positioning of uavs provide
More Accurate Positioning of UAVs Provide:
  • Climate

Quicker Data Collection

  • Weather Research

Closer to Data Source

  • Fisheries Enforcement

Expanded and More Frequent Monitoring

  • Coastal Zone Studies

More Accurate Data

  • Fire Monitoring

Replaces Human Monitoring

  • Search and Rescue

Provides an Aerial View in Harsh Terrain

Search and Rescue

Forest Fires

Hurricane Monitoring

Slide Courtesy of Scott Raydar

uav fire fighting capability prediction
UAV Fire Fighting Capability & Prediction

Smoke jumpers & firefighters arrive

Firefighters receive HALE images on their PDAs

Firefighters employ hand held radios connecting them to each other, their command post, and the tankers

Courtesy Northrop Grumman

gnss enabled uavs in the gulf of mexico
GNSS Enabled UAVs in the Gulf of Mexico

Harmful Algal Bloom along Florida Coastline

Slide Courtesy of Scott Raydar

gnss applications in various ecosystems
GNSS Applications in Various Ecosystems

Pipeline Movement

Argos-Linked Tagged Loggerhead Sea Turtles Tracked by NOAA Polar Satellite

Coastal Erosion Monitoring

Slide Courtesy of Scott Raydar