Uncertainty in geocenter estimates in the context of ITRF2014

Anna R. Riddell*, Matt A. King, Christopher S. Watson, Yu Sun, Riccardo E.M. Riva, R. Rietbroek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Uncertainty in the geocenter position and its subsequent motion affects positioning estimates on the surface of the Earth and downstream products such as site velocities, particularly the vertical component. The current version of the International Terrestrial Reference Frame, ITRF2014, derives its origin as the long-term averaged center of mass as sensed by satellite laser ranging (SLR), and by definition, it adopts only linear motion of the origin with uncertainty determined using a white noise process. We compare weekly SLR translations relative to the ITRF2014 origin, with network translations estimated from station displacements from surface mass transport models. We find that the proportion of variance explained in SLR translations by the model-derived translations is on average less than 10%. Time-correlated noise and nonlinear rates, particularly evident in the Y and Z components of the SLR translations with respect to the ITRF2014 origin, are not fully replicated by the model-derived translations. This suggests that translation-related uncertainties are underestimated when a white noise model is adopted and that substantial systematic errors remain in the data defining the ITRF origin. When using a white noise model, we find uncertainties in the rate of SLR X, Y, and Z translations of ±0.03, ±0.03, and ±0.06, respectively, increasing to ±0.13, ±0.17, and ±0.33 (mm/yr, 1 sigma) when a power law and white noise model is adopted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4020-4032
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • geocenter
  • ITRF origin
  • noise analysis
  • reference frame
  • temporal variability
  • ITC-CV


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