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Altimetry for the future: building on 25 years of progress


Abdalla, S and Abdeh Kolahchi, A and Ablain, M and Adusumilli, S and Aich Bhowmick, S and Watson, CS and Legresy, B and Cahill, M and Shepherd, AJ and Alou-Font, E and Amarouche, L and Andersen, OB and Antich, H and Aouf, L and Arbic, B and Armitage, T and Arnault, S and Artana, C and Aulicino, G and Ayoub, N and Badulin, S and Baker, S and Banks, C and Bao, L and Barbetta, S and BarcelA -Llull, B and Barlier, F and Basu, S and Becker, M and Beckley, B and Bellefond, N and Belonenko, T and Benkiran, M and Benkouider, T and Bennartz, R and Benveniste, J and Bercher, N and Berge-Nguyen, M and Bettencourt, J and Blarel, F and Blazquez, A and Blumstein, D and Bonnefond, P and Borde, F and Bouffard, J and Boy, F and Boy, JP and Brachet, C and Brasseur, P and Braun, A and Brocca, L and Brockley, D and Brodeau, L and Brown, S and Bruinsma, S and Bulczak, A and Buzzard, S and Calmant, S and Calzas, M and Camici, S and Cancet, M and Capdeville, H and Carabajal, CC and Carrere, L and Cazenave, A and Chassignet, EP and Chauhan, P and Cherchali, S and Chereskin, T and Cheymol, C and Ciani, D and Cipollini, P and Cirillo, F and Cosme, E and Coss, S and Cotroneo, Y and Cotton, D and Couhert, A and Coutin-Faye, S and Cretaux, JF and Cyr, F and DOvidio, F and Darrozes, J and David, C and Dayoub, N and De Staerke, D and Deng, X and Desai, S and Desjonqueres, JD and Dettmering, D and Di Bella, A and Diaz-Barroso, L and Dibarboure, G and Dieng, HB and Dinardo, S and Dobslaw, H and Dodet, G and Doglioli, A and Domeneghetti, A and Donahue, D and Zinchenko, V and Zlotnicki, V, Altimetry for the future: building on 25 years of progress, Advances in Space Research, 68, (2) pp. 319-363. ISSN 0273-1177 (2021) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright 2021 COSPAR. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) license (

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.asr.2021.01.022


In 2018 we celebrated 25 years of development of radar altimetry, and the progress achieved by this methodology in the fields of global and coastal oceanography, hydrology, geodesy and cryospheric sciences. Many symbolic major events have celebrated these developments, e.g., in Venice, Italy, the 15th (2006) and 20th (2012) years of progress and more recently, in 2018, in Ponta Delgada, Portugal, 25 Years of Progress in Radar Altimetry. On this latter occasion it was decided to collect contributions of scientists, engineers and managers involved in the worldwide altimetry community to depict the state of altimetry and propose recommendations for the altimetry of the future. This paper summarizes contributions and recommendations that were collected and provides guidance for future mission design, research activities, and sustainable operational radar altimetry data exploitation. Recommendations provided are fundamental for optimizing further scientific and operational advances of oceanographic observations by altimetry, including requirements for spatial and temporal resolution of altimetric measurements, their accuracy and continuity. There are also new challenges and new openings mentioned in the paper that are particularly crucial for observations at higher latitudes, for coastal oceanography, for cryospheric studies and for hydrology.

The paper starts with a general introduction followed by a section on Earth System Science including Ocean Dynamics, Sea Level, the Coastal Ocean, Hydrology, the Cryosphere and Polar Oceans and the "Green" Ocean, extending the frontier from biogeochemistry to marine ecology. Applications are described in a subsequent section, which covers Operational Oceanography, Weather, Hurricane Wave and Wind Forecasting, Climate projection. Instruments' development and satellite missions' evolutions are described in a fourth section. A fifth section covers the key observations that altimeters provide and their potential complements, from other Earth observation measurements to in situ data. Section 6 identifies the data and methods and provides some accuracy and resolution requirements for the wet tropospheric correction, the orbit and other geodetic requirements, the Mean Sea Surface, Geoid and Mean Dynamic Topography, Calibration and Validation, data accuracy, data access and handling (including the DUACS system). Section 7 brings a transversal view on scales, integration, artificial intelligence, and capacity building (education and training). Section 8 reviews the programmatic issues followed by a conclusion.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:satellite altimetry; oceanography; sea level; coastal oceanography; cryospheric sciences; hydrology
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Geophysics
Research Field:Geodesy
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the earth sciences
UTAS Author:Watson, CS (Dr Christopher Watson)
UTAS Author:Legresy, B (Dr Benoit Legresy)
ID Code:152756
Year Published:2021
Web of Science® Times Cited:28
Deposited By:Geography and Spatial Science
Deposited On:2022-08-24
Last Modified:2022-09-14
Downloads:1 View Download Statistics

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