Ocean and Coastal Altimetry

Satellite altimetry is one of the workhorses of oceanography allowing global observations of the ocean dynamics (see Fu and Cazenave 2001), and a crucial means of studying climate change, as mean sea level is a key indicator of climate change (Ablain et al. 2015). Moreover, altimetry provides estimates of significant wave height and wind speed, which are valuable for climate research (Challenor et al. 2006), studies of ocean/atmosphere exchanges and maritime operations. However until recently altimetry was not used in the coastal zone; data were flagged as bad and discarded, due to contamination by land and calm waters, as well as difficulties with some of the corrections for atmospheric and surface effects that need to be applied to achieve accurate measurements. This situation has changed with the advent of coastal altimetry techniques, i.e. advances in processing and corrections that improve the quality and quantity of data recovered in the coastal zone (Vignudelli et al. 2011). The combination of improvements in processing and new technologies pave the way to a number of high impact coastal altimetry applications, as the coastal zone is the one where changes in the marine environment have the largest impact on society (Cipollini et al. 2010).

Co-ReSyF will include an on-demand processor for improved coastal altimetry, allowing users to reprocess data from multiple satellite altimeter missions over user-defined areas and time windows, with specialised algorithms and updated corrections. The final objective of such an application is to provide data for better physical environment characterisation in the coastal zone that can be used by marine biologists, ecologists, coastal planners and modellers (including those studying the long-term evolution of sea level and extreme events such as storm surges).


Ablain, M., Cazenave, A., Larnicol, G., Balmaseda, M., Cipollini, P., Faugère, Y., Fernandes, M. J., et al. (2015). “Improved sea level record over the satellite altimetry era (1993–2010) from the Climate Change Initiative project”. Ocean Science, 11 (1). 6782. http://dx.doi.org/10.5194/os11672015

Challenor, P., C. Gommenginger, C., Woolf, D., Srokosz, M., Carter, D. and Cotton, D. (2006). Satellite altimetry: A revolution in understanding the wave climate, 15 years of progress in radar altimetry Symposium, Venice, Italy

Cipollini, P., Benveniste, J., Bouffard, J., Emery, W., Gommenginger, C., Griffin, D., Høyer, J., Madsen, K., Mercier, F., et al. (2010). “The Role of Altimetry in Coastal Observing Systems”, in Proceedings of OceanObs’09: Sustained Ocean Observations and Information for Society (Vol. 2), Venice, Italy, 2125 September 2009, Hall, J., Harrison, D.E. & Stammer, D., Eds., ESA Publication WPP306

Fernandes, M.J., Lázaro, C., Nunes, A.L., Pires, N., Bastos, L., Mendes, V.B. (2010). GNSS-derived Path Delay: an approach to compute the wet tropospheric correction for coastal altimetry, IEEE Geosci. Rem. Sens Lett., vol. 7, no. 3, pp. 596−600

Fu, L.L. and A. Cazenave (eds) (2001). Satellite Altimetry and Earth Sciences: A Handbook of Techniques and Applications, vol. 69, Eds. San Diego, CA, USA: Academic, pp. 1–131

Vignudelli S., Kostianoy A. G., Cipollini P., Benveniste J. (eds) (2011). Coastal Altimetry, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg, doi:10.1007/9783642127960,
578 pp

Posted on: 2nd June 2016, by : admin