AbstractCommercially available global navigation satellite system (GNSS) processing software is user-friendly and can be used in a wide variety of positioning applications from establishing geodetic control over large regions to deformation monitoring on a local scale. It is important to study the accuracy of positioning from commercial software for presurvey planning. Previously, this was done in several studies; however, none of them focused on the effect of large height differences in positioning solutions. It is known in the literature that large height differences on a baseline degrade GNSS solutions. In this study, we investigate the effect using TOPCON MAGNET v 4.0.1 through analysis of continuously operating reference stations (CORS) in California, US. Because the effect of height differences on global positioning system (GPS) baseline components has not yet been properly quantified, the positioning accuracy standards given in the surveying guidelines may not be appropriate and are often overoptimistic. When the height difference was less than about 300 m, the root mean square error was about 2–3 mm for the horizontal components and about 20 mm for the vertical component for baseline lengths of 10–20 km. However, for a height difference of 1,500 m, the error became 5–8 mm for the horizontal and 70 mm for the vertical components. In all cases, the vertical error was greater than the horizontal by a factor of 5–9, which is much greater than the expected 2–4 for GNSS. These results are likely only applicable to the version of the MAGNET software used in this study.

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