Pinpointing the shifts in the ever changing Australian continent

Farmers, climate scientists and surveyors all have a need for detailed and accurate measurements of the changing Australian continent. AuScopes Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) project contributed 55 GNSS stations to a national network of 101 stations around the country. The stations, placed at distances of around 200 kilometres apart, each with a receiver and antenna, are connected to the GNSS network. The network will deliver more accurate data than previously possible, offering an increased capacity for GPS systems to accurately pinpoint the shifts in the Australian continent.

Along with AuScopes GNSS project, the Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) project, consisting of three radio-telescopes, extends the number of points at which deformation of the Australian continent is measured from three to 103. This far more accurate level of data has applications in a host of industries.

Geoscience Australias Dr John Dawson said one of the primary benefits of the GNSS network was accurate measurement of sea level change around Australias coastline. Researchers need to know whether the land is rising or falling to make a true measurement of sea level change. The AuScope funded GNSS network gives us this ability across a very wide part of our continent for the first time. It is also helping weather forecasters, climate scientists and the Bureau of Meteorology by providing a new source of data on the level of moisture in the atmosphere. GNSS signals change in measurable ways as weather fronts pass over the stations.

Another key beneficiary are Australian farmers, who rely heavily on GPS to guide computer controlled harvesting machinery and other equipment. We can help provide a real-time service to farmers that allows them to guide their machinery with an accuracy of two centimetres. The ability to use large automated farm equipment remotely with this level of accuracy – year after year – has been shown to have very significant yield benefits. The elimination of overlapping runs, saves fuel, fertiliser and results in minimal compaction of the soil; all leading to better farming practices.

Dr Dawson said intelligent transport systems would also rely on the AuScope funded infrastructure. We already have automated trucks in the mining industry. In the next 10 to 20 years, we expect driverless cars to make their way on to our roads. Imagine what would happen if their positioning systems were not adjusted every year to allow for seven centimetres of plate movement and all the variations that we are beginning to see within our continent.

Caption: AuScope contributed 55 GNSS stations to the national network of 101 across the country.

Case Study : Measurements, Change, Australian continent

Category: Geospatial Framework & Earth Dynamics