Geodetic methods to determine the relativistic redshift at the level of 10 - 18 in the context of international timescales: a review and practical results

authored by
Heiner Denker, Ludger Timmen, Christian Voigt, Stefan Weyers, Ekkehard Peik, Helen S. Margolis, Pacôme Delva, Peter Wolf, Gérard Petit

The frequency stability and uncertainty of the latest generation of optical atomic clocks is now approaching the one part in 10 18 level. Comparisons between earthbound clocks at rest must account for the relativistic redshift of the clock frequencies, which is proportional to the corresponding gravity (gravitational plus centrifugal) potential difference. For contributions to international timescales, the relativistic redshift correction must be computed with respect to a conventional zero potential value in order to be consistent with the definition of Terrestrial Time. To benefit fully from the uncertainty of the optical clocks, the gravity potential must be determined with an accuracy of about 0.1m2s-2, equivalent to about 0.01 m in height. This contribution focuses on the static part of the gravity field, assuming that temporal variations are accounted for separately by appropriate reductions. Two geodetic approaches are investigated for the derivation of gravity potential values: geometric levelling and the Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS)/geoid approach. Geometric levelling gives potential differences with millimetre uncertainty over shorter distances (several kilometres), but is susceptible to systematic errors at the decimetre level over large distances. The GNSS/geoid approach gives absolute gravity potential values, but with an uncertainty corresponding to about 2 cm in height. For large distances, the GNSS/geoid approach should therefore be better than geometric levelling. This is demonstrated by the results from practical investigations related to three clock sites in Germany and one in France. The estimated uncertainty for the relativistic redshift correction at each site is about 2 × 10 - 18.

Institute of Geodesy
External Organisation(s)
National Metrology Institute of Germany (PTB)
National Physical Laboratory (NPL)
Observatoire de Paris (OBSPARIS)
International Bureau of Weights and Measures
Journal of geodesy
No. of pages
Publication date
Publication status
Peer reviewed
ASJC Scopus subject areas
Geophysics, Geochemistry and Petrology, Computers in Earth Sciences
Electronic version(s) (Access: Open)

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