Retracking ERS-1 altimeter waveforms for optimal gravity field recovery

Edited: 2011-10-03
TitleRetracking ERS-1 altimeter waveforms for optimal gravity field recovery
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2005
AuthorsSandwell, D., and W. Smith
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Pagination79 - 89
Date Published10/2005
Keywordsretracking, sea_level
AbstractWe have reprocessed ERS-1 radar altimeter waveforms using an algorithm designed to minimize sea surface slope error and decouple it from significant wave height (SWH) error. Standard waveform retracking estimates three parameters-arrival time, SWH and amplitude. We show that errors in retracked estimates of arrival time and SWH are inherently correlated because of the noise characteristics of the returned waveform. This suggests that some of what is called `sea state bias' in the literature may be caused by correlated errors rather than true electromagnetic or skewness bias. We have developed a retracking algorithm that reduces this error correlation and makes the resolution of sea surface slope signals independent of sea state. The main assumption is that the SWH varies smoothly along the satellite track over wavelengths of 90 km. This approach reduces the rms error in sea surface slope to only 62 per cent of that of standard retracking methods. While our method is optimized for gravity field recovery, it may also improve the resolution of sea surface height signals of interest to physical oceanographers