Joint calibration of multiplatform altimeter measurements of wind speed and wave height over the past 20 Years

S. Zieger*, J. Vinoth, I. R. Young

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

177 Citations (Scopus)


Since 1985, for a period of more than 23 yr, seven altimeter missions have provided global coverage of significant wave height and wind speed. This study undertakes a long-term analysis of the accuracy and stability of altimeter-derived values of significant wave height and wind speed from the following satellites: European Remote Sensing-1 (ERS-1), ERS-2, Environmental Satellite (Envisat), Geosat, Geosat Follow-On (GFO), Jason-1, and the Ocean Topography Experiment (TOPEX). This study is a necessary step in developing a quality-controlled and fully calibrated and validated dataset from the combined satellites. Calibration of all altimeters is performed against National Oceanographic Data Center (NODC) buoy data over the extended period. These calibrations are validated using intercomparisons between satellite missions at crossover ground points. This analysis shows that, for a number of the satellites, small "step like" changes occur during the missions. These inconsistencies are removed by subdividing these missions and undertaking a partial calibration for each section of the mission. The analysis also highlights that care is necessary when attempting to apply relationships between radar cross section and wind speed derived for one altimeter to other platforms. Before undertaking such steps, it is first necessary to apply a platform-specific radar cross-sectional offset to the data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2549-2564
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009
Externally publishedYes


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