The radiometers on board the satellites ERS-1, TOPEX/Poseidon, ERS-2, GFO, Jason-1, and Envisat measure brightness temperatures at two or three different frequencies to determine the total columnal water vapor content and wet tropospheric path delay, a major correction to the altimeter
range measurements. In order to asses the long-term stability of the path delay, the radiometers are calibrated against vicarious cold and hot references, against each other, and against several atmospheric models. Four of these radiometers exhibit significant drifts in at least one of the
channels, resulting in yet unmodeled errors in path delay of up to 1 mm/year, thus limiting the accuracy at which global sea level rise can be inferred from the altimeter range measurements.
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