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NZVD2009 & GNSS Heighting

NZIS Seminars 2009

Getting the Best Heighting Results

GNSS equipment (GPS, Glonass
and soon Galileo & Compass)

Bruce Robinson
Global Survey

Presenter Introduction

Bruce Robinson
BSurv (Otago) MNZIS
Registered Professional Surveyor
Survey Sales Manager, Global Survey


Richard Harrison
BSc(Hons) Surveying Science (Newcastle, UK)
South Island Technical Sales Specialist, Global Survey
Some questions to consider

 Who has used VD05 or another Geoid Model before?

 Who has used an incline plane height adjustment before?

 Who starts their base with a here position?

 Who always starts their base on a known point/height?
 Who has completed a Coordinate Determination or Calibration before?
 Who uses an internet base station?
 Who does mapping work (sub-metre)?

 What are your major concerns about using Geoid models?

 What expectations do you have of NZVD09?
 What type of jobs do you have for which NZVD09 will be useful?


Modeling the Geoid

The Geoid and You

Adequate Control

GNSS observation techniques

Practical examples


Ellipsoid, Geoid, Topography


Ortho Ellipsoid
height height

Geoid Height
Ellipsoid, Geoid, Topography

GNSS = MSL + Separation

Ortho Ellipsoid
height height

Geoid Height

How to model the Geoid

Apply a bulk shift
(geometrically derived)

Relatively easy to apply

Very easy to understand


Not robust
Applicable for a small area
Will soon introduce error
Not getting full utility from your software/hardware investment
How to model the Geoid
Compute an Incline Plane adjustment
(geometrically derived)

Much more robust

Relatively easy to understand
Applicable for a larger area
Provides an estimate of error as part of the result
Better utility from your investment


Need to occupy more control

May introduce error if not carried out correctly

How to model the Geoid

Use a Geoid Model

(gravimetric derived)

Model data is readily available

Works well in general for large areas
Can improve GNSS height with relative ease


It is a model, not a complete replication of reality

Has some inherent inaccuracies
Need a model loaded on your GNSS gear/software
Somewhat Black Box approach
Earths gravity field (EGM08)


New Zealand Gravity Field (NZVD09)

How does the Geoid affect you?

40m of Geoid Height change between Bluff and North Cape

On average 20-30mm per km
Local variations can be much more or much less
Most practical applications of Surveying and Engineering require Ortho

Kaikoura coast

MacKenzie Basin


Ortho vs Ellipsoid heights example

Ellip Ortho
1V Ortho Ellip (N) VD09 VD09- Ortho

ADLA 73.53 107.59 34.06 73.53 0.00

ADLP 107.16 141.18 34.02 107.17 0.01

DDN1 3.49 37.68 34.19 3.43 -0.06

DD1Y 3.31 37.51 34.20 3.26 -0.05

Spread 0.18 0.07

DD1Y -30
34.20 5 km ADLA
ADLA is approx 5km South of DD1Y
Geoid Slope prior to VD is approx 3cm per
Slope after VD2009 applied is approx 1cm
per km
Factors affecting GNSS height

Quality of Control
Distribution of Control
Class of measurement device
Measurement technique
Method of modelling the geoid

What is Adequate Control?

The control points should be spread through the work area

 Errors are unpredictable away from control points (geoid affect)
 Minimum FOUR control points (five or more is better)
Improving the accuracy of GNSS heights

 Review of GNSS heighting precisions

 0.3m 0.6 0.75m
 RTK (Moving up to 50km)
 10mm +1ppm 20mm + 1ppm
 RTK (Static up to 50km)
 5mm+0.5ppm 10mm + 0.5ppm
 PP (Long baseline static)
 3mm+0.5ppm 6mm + 0.5ppm

GIS Data Capture (or Code Differential)

Typically uses GPS and Glonass Code signals

+ / - 0.3m in plan
+ / - 0.75m in height

Question: VD09 stated accuracy is + / - 6cm, my gear cant achieve that so

why bother??

Answer: Because you are often working 100-200 km from a base

Example: Over 200km, + / - 200mm of extra error in the height precision

Over 200km, there may be 4m of geoid change!
RTK Kinematic/Static (from 0km to 50km)
Typically uses GPS and Glonass Code signals; Future GPS L5, Galileo, Compass

+-10mm+1ppm in plan + / - 20mm + 1ppm in height

+-5mm+0.5ppn in plan + / - 10mm + 0.5ppm in height

Question: VD09 stated accuracy is + / - 6cm. My gear is more precise than

that, so why bother?

Answer: Because Relative accuracy is much greater than Absolute

(for shorter baselines)
Because you may be working 50km from an (internet) base

Example: Over 50km, GNSS height precision is + / - 70mm (better in

Typical geoid undulation is possibly 1m + / - 6cm
But still check on local control

Post Processed Static (up to 100s of kms)

Typically uses GPS and Glonass Code signals; Future GPS L5, Galileo, Compass

+-3mm + 0.5ppm in plan

+-6mm + 0.5ppm in height

Question: VD09 stated accuracy is + / - 6cm. My gear is much more

precise than that, so why bother??

Answer: Because you are measuring very long baselines with large geoid
undulations, so if you want Ortho heights without tying
to additional control, use a model

Example: Over 100km, GNSS height precision is + / - 56mm

Typical geoid undulation is possibly 2m + / - 6cm
So if you need an Ortho height, the model is a good option
For more precise Ortho heights, check local control
How do you know how accurate your results

Compare adjusted data to known values

Autonomous here base coordinates and GNSS

Question: What is the effect of an autonomous base coordinate?

Answer: Depends on how you handle the results

Example 1: Every 10m error in base = 1ppm extra error in vector

Error in base coordinate < Error in rover coordinate
Typical autonomous accuracy is now approx 3 - 5m

Example 2: 5m error in base height = at least 5m error in rover

height, with or without a geoid model
Grossly incorrect base coordinates and GNSS
Question: What if I choose Mt Eden 2000 and start the base on
800000, 400000

Answer: Potential for multiple issues here

Example: Working on the wrong part of the Ellipsoid probably

wont initialise

Working on wrong part of the Geoid Model

completely incorrect Geoid Heights used

Starting the base using a Geoid Model

Geoid model on Rover
Start Base Known Ellipsoid Known Ortho
with height height

With model Base converts to Base converts

WGS84 and Ortho to Ellip via
transmits model, then
converts to
WGS84 and
Rover result Hts are in terms of Hts in terms of
Geoid but datum Geoid Datum
offset not applied offset applied.
Starting the base without a Geoid Model
Geoid model on Rover

Start Base with Known Ellipsoid Known Ortho

height height

Without model Base converts to Base asumes H =

WGS84 and h, then converts to
transmits WGS84 and
Rover result Hts are in terms of Geoid model
Geoid but datum applied Hts
offset not applied incorrect by amount
of separation at

Scenario 1

Scenario 1
Scenario 2

Scenario 3
Scenario 3
Cadastral Survey implications

 All distances should be ellipsoidal

 Dont need to use a model for cadastral surveys

Rule 22 (2002)
The distances shown in cadastral survey datasets are to be ellipsoidal

8.3.3 Distance and area reduction (2010)

Each horizontal distance and area must be reduced to the ellipsoid
used for the official geodetic datum.

Practical Examples

Practical example in Leica Geo Office

 Show field data with VD05, VD09 and no model applied
 Look at differences
NZVD2009 Conclusions

NZVD2009 Provides benefit for all classes of GNSS


NZVD2009 Helps to determine accurate heights when level data

is scarce
BUT . . .
NZVD2009 Should not be used in isolation