Jul 27, 2016

Radar altimeter of CryoSat and Sentinel-3 set the new standards

Trying to measure sea levels around rugged coastlines is not always an easy task.

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Sea level is a very sensitive indicator of climate change. It is vitally important for understanding climate and also its social and economic consequences.

Radar altimeters installed at ESA’s CryoSat satellite, and similar one at Copernicus Sentinel-3 satellite make a real difference and set a new standard for measuring sea levels. The other altimeters usually produce confused readings close to the coast, showing differences of 10 cm or more. Also, while classical altimetry offers a few tens of observations over a five-year period, more or less near a tide gauge, some 7000 measurements very close to the gauge are obtainable with CryoSat and Sentinel-3.

It gives better accuracy of the two European satellites in the costal zones and it is possible to measure the sea-surface height right at the coast.

Sentinel-3 provides high-accuracy optical, radar and altimetry data for marine and land services. It measures variables such as sea-surface topography, sea- and land-surface temperature, ocean colour and land colour with high-end accuracy and reliability. The first Sentinel-3 satellite was launched on 16 February 2016 and Sentinel-3B will be launched in 2017.