A Preliminary Estimate of Geoid-Induced Variations in Repeat Orbit Satellite Altimeter Observations

Edited: 2011-05-18
TitleA Preliminary Estimate of Geoid-Induced Variations in Repeat Orbit Satellite Altimeter Observations
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1990
AuthorsBrenner, A., C. J. Koblinsky, and B. Beckley
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Volume95
IssueC3
Pagination3033 - 3040
Date Published1990
ISSN0148-0227
Keywordsprocessing, sea_level
AbstractAltimeter satellites are often maintained in a repeating orbit to facilitate the separation of sea height variations from the geoid. However, atmospheric drag and solar radiation pressure cause a satellite orbit to drift. For Geosat this drift causes the ground track to vary by ± 1 km about the nominal repeat path. This misalignment leads to an error in the estimates of sea surface height variations because of the local slope in the geoid. We have estimated this error globally for the Geosat Exact Repeat Mission using a mean sea surface constructed from Geos 3 and Seasat altimeter data. Over most of the ocean the geoid gradient is small, and the repeat track misalignment leads to errors of only 1 to 2 cm. However, in the vicinity of trenches, continental shelves, islands, and seamounts, errors can exceed 20 cm. The estimated error is compared with direct estimates from Geosat altimetry, and a strong correlation is found in the vicinity of the Tonga and Aleutian trenches. This correlation increases as the orbit error is reduced because of the increased signal-to-noise ratio.
DOI10.1029/JC095iC03p03033
Short TitleJ. Geophys. Res.