Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) and the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) are collaborating to use Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) data for scientific studies.
Leading NTU Singapore’s efforts in this collaboration is its Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS), which will see its researchers access GNSS data collected by SLA’s Singapore Satellite Positioning Reference Network (SiReNT), and more than a decade of archived historical GNSS data.
Together with the development of new coastal GNSS reference stations in Singapore led by EOS, this will allow research into more accurate ways to measure land-height and sea-level changes around Singapore, as well as the effect of the atmosphere on the weather and climate on the island nation.
GNSS encompasses different types of satellite navigation systems including the commonly known Global Positioning System (GPS) which can be used by systems such as SLA’s SiReNT - to produce precise positioning data up to an accuracy of 3 cm.
An agreement was signed between EOS and SLA on Monday at NTU to establish the four-year collaboration, which is expected to contribute to the Singapore National Sea Level Programme (NSLP) by the Centre for Climate Research Singapore,  supported by the National Research Foundation and the National Environment Agency.
Associate Professor Emma Hill, Acting Chair, Asian School of the Environment (ASE) and Principal Investigator at EOS, said, “Having access to Singapore’s historical Global Navigation Satellite System data is crucial for understanding how the land and coast have changed over the years. Leveraging NTU’s strengths in areas such as sustainability and earth sciences, this collaboration also provides us with valuable data to contextualise more accurate projections to augment the Singapore’s climate change response.”
Dr Victor Khoo, Director of Survey & Geomatics at SLA, said, “Beyond positioning and mapping, leveraging precise positioning technology such as SLA’s SiReNT can open up significant possibilities to tackle the increasingly complex issues relating to climate and environmental changes. With the combined expertise of SLA and EOS, we look forward to harnessing the rich historical data to co-create solutions for a new era in predicting and preparing for coastal and land changes to manage and mitigate climate change impact on Singapore.”
The collaboration between NTU and SLA is an example of a research initiative that supports the university’s NTU 2025 strategic plan, which seeks to address humanity’s grand challenges on sustainability, and accelerate the translation of research discoveries into innovations that mitigate human impact on the environment.
Scope of collaboration
During the period of collaboration, EOS will process historical GNSS data provided by SLA to assess how land-height has changed at specific locations. This will help improve the accuracy of elevation results obtained from Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) – the current technique NTU uses to map ground deformation over Singapore and other cities in the region.
To develop innovative techniques to monitor both land-height and sea-level changes, EOS and SLA will install up to four new coastal GNSS stations across Singapore for data collection. They will also be integrated into the SiReNT infrastructure and services to maximise the use of resources. Data from existing SiReNT stations will be included to support this objective.
At the same time, EOS will look at novel ways to use data from existing GNSS, such as using the information to investigate the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere. By characterising the atmospheric processes that affect Singapore at various timescales, scientists can find out where and when localised weather systems are likely to produce intense precipitation.
EOS researchers will also aim to utilise the GNSS data in local meteorological research. Through detailed comparison and analysis of GNSS and meteorological data, the scientists aim to better understand precipitation and severe weather events.
 The NSLP was set up with the objective to coordinate relevant climate research in Singapore and to address key knowledge gaps in the understanding and modelling of the physical mechanism of sea level rise and variability.