EGU General Assembly 2020
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the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Activities and plans of the GGOS Focus Area Unified Height System

Laura Sanchez1 and Riccardo Barzaghi2
Laura Sanchez and Riccardo Barzaghi
  • 1DGFI-TUM, Munich, Germany (
  • 2Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Politecnico di Milano, Milano, Italy (

The Global Geodetic Observing System (GGOS) of the International Association of Geodesy (IAG), providing precise geodetic infrastructure and expertise for monitoring the System Earth, promotes the standardization of height systems worldwide. The GGOS Focus Area "Unified Height System” (GGOS-FA-UHS, formerly Theme 1) was established at the 2010 GGOS Planning Meeting (February 1 - 3, Miami, Florida, USA) to lead and coordinate these efforts. Starting point was the results delivered by the IAG Inter-Commission Project 1.2 "Vertical Reference Frames" (IAG ICP1.2 VRF), which was operative from 2003 to 2011. During the 2011-2015 term, different discussions focussed on the best possible definition of a global unified vertical reference system resulted in the  IAG resolution for the "Definition and realization of an International Height Reference System (IHRS)” that was approved during the 2015 General Assembly of the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG) in Prague, Czech Republic. The immediate objectives of the GGOS-FA-UHS are (1) to outline detailed standards, conventions, and guidelines to make the IAG Resolution applicable, and (2) to establish the realization of the IHRS, i.e., the International Height Reference Frame (IHRF). This contribution summarizes the main achievements of the GGOS-FA-UHS and provides a review of the open questions that need to be resolved in the near future.

How to cite: Sanchez, L. and Barzaghi, R.: Activities and plans of the GGOS Focus Area Unified Height System, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-8625,, 2020


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  • CC1: Comment on EGU2020-8625, Manuela Vasconcelos, 05 May 2020

    Hi Laura. Thanks for your very detailed report.

    I would like to know if you have an idea on when the first IHRF could be computed.

    Thank you

    • AC1: Reply to CC1, Laura Sanchez, 05 May 2020

      Hello Manuela,

      We have already some preliminary solutions, but the uncertainty is still too high. Right now, we are trying to define an appropriate strategy to increase the reliability of the physical heights. I think, we would need at least a couple of years more.

      Best wishes,


      • CC2: Reply to AC1, Manuela Vasconcelos, 05 May 2020

        Thank you, Laura.

        All the best,