On the short-term temporal variations of GNSS receiver differential phase biases
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As a first step towards studying the ionosphere with the global navigation satellite system (GNSS), leveling the phase to the code geometry-free observations on an arc-by-arc basis yields the ionospheric observables, interpreted as a combination of slant total electron content along with satellite and receiver differential code biases (DCB). The leveling errors in the ionospheric observables may arise during this procedure, which, according to previous studies by other researchers, are due to the combined effects of the code multipath and the intra-day variability in the receiver DCB. In this paper we further identify the short-term temporal variations of receiver differential phase biases (DPB) as another possible cause of leveling errors. Our investigation starts by the development of a method to epoch-wise estimate between-receiver DPB (BR-DPB) employing (inter-receiver) single-differenced, phase-only GNSS observations collected from a pair of receivers creating a zero or short baseline. The key issue for this method is to get rid of the possible discontinuities in the epoch-wise BR-DPB estimates, occurring when satellite assigned as pivot changes. Our numerical tests, carried out using Global Positioning System (GPS, US GNSS) and BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS, Chinese GNSS) observations sampled every 30 s by a dedicatedly selected set of zero and short baselines, suggest two major findings. First, epoch-wise BR-DPB estimates can exhibit remarkable variability over a rather short period of time (e.g. 6 cm over 3 h), thus significant from a statistical point of view. Second, a dominant factor driving this variability is the changes of ambient temperature, instead of the un-modelled phase multipath.
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