Coordinate system transformation : ITRF, ETRF, WGS84

Clear introduction about Global and local referential (Lantmateriet) : “Positions determined by the GNSS method Precise Point Positioning (PPP) are in the same reference frame as the orbits, i.e. usually a realization of ITRS, e.g. ITRFyy, IGSyy or WGS84, where “yy” represents the year of the realization. The coordinates change with time in the ITRS realizations, because of the plate tectonics. Hence,the determined coordinates are given in the epoch of the observations. For practical applications like mapping and referencing spatial data , a static system/frame, which does not change with time, is desired. For this purpose, ETRS89 has been developed for Europe. ETRS89 coincides with ITRS at epoch 1989.0.”

Another simple reading about dealing with ITRS, ETRS and WGS84 is at Confluence website.

Nota : the transformations made by GIS software from WGS84 to local referential are precise at 1 meter only. For centimeter accuracy, use a geodetic software taking into account the velocities of the ITRF referential relative to the local referential (e.g. ETRF for Europe).

There are many WGS84 realizations. The latest compares with ITRF08 and ITRF14, see table below:

YearRealization (Epoch)For all practical purposes equivalent to:
1987WGS 1984 (ORIG)NAD83 (1986)
1994WGS84 (G730)ITRF91/92
1997WGS84 (G873)ITRF94/96
2002WGS84 (G1150)ITRF00
2012WGS (G1674)ITRF08
2013WGS (G1762)Compares to ITFR08 within 1cm Root Mean Square (RMS) overall
Table of WGS84 compared to ITRF from https://www.e-education.psu.edu/geog862/node/1804

For US, WGS84 (G1762) is equivalent at 1cm to ITRF14. For France also ITRF14 ~ ITRF08 at less than 1cm, the transformation is given here http://itrf.ensg.ign.fr/trans_para.php

For France, the official referential is RGF93, which in its latest version is defined as ETRF2000 (epoch 2009.0) ( https://geodesie.ign.fr/index.php?page=rgf93 ).

Position and velocities of the IGS stations in ITRF2014 at epoch 2010 is given at this adress http://itrf.ensg.eu/ITRF_solutions/2014/doc/ITRF2014_GNSS.SSC.txt

Tools to Convert between referentials

Reference online tool to convert between ITRF and ETRF : http://www.epncb.oma.be/_productsservices/coord_trans/index.php

Coordinate transformation software for France : Circé IGN

Coordinate transformation software : PROJ

Example : converting from ITRFxx (epoch XXXX) to RGF93

We have made a GNSS survey in May 2020 that we want to convert to France official referential in a projection. The GNSS referential will then be ITRF14 (epoch 2020.1), and the French referential will be RGF93 with the associated projection Lambert93. In order to do so, we need to make some referential transformation, and also some conversion between cartesian coordinates, geographic coordinates and projected coordinates.

To transform ITRF14 (epoch 2020.1) to RGF93, use this site and choose ETRF2000 (epoch 2009) as equivalent to RGF93 (see this post), for the velocities you must choose the one of the nearest IGS station (positions and velocities given at ITRF official site or Euref site). Then to transform cartesian to geographic coordinates, use Circé IGN software. And finally, use also Circé to convert to projected coordinate system.

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