The definitions of the base units of the SI were adopted in a context that takes no account of relativistic effects. When such account is taken, it is clear that the definitions apply only in a small spatial domain sharing the motion of the standards that realize them. These units are known as proper units; they are realized from local experiments in which the relativistic effects that need to be taken into account are those of special relativity. The constants of physics are local quantities with their values expressed in proper units.
Physical realizations of the definition of a unit are usually compared locally. For frequency standards, however, it is possible to make such comparisons at a distance by means of electromagnetic signals. To interpret the results the theory of general relativity is required since it predicts, among other things, a relative frequency shift between standards of about 1 part in 1016 per metre of altitude difference at the surface of the Earth. Effects of this magnitude cannot be neglected when comparing the best frequency standards.
The question of proper units is addressed in Resolution A4 adopted by the
XXIst General Assembly
of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) in 1991 and by the report of the CCDS Working Group on the Application of General Relativity to Metrology (Metrologia, 1997, 34, 261-290).