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Assessing SARAL/AltiKa Data in the Coastal Zone: Comparisons with HF Radar Observations

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We present an initial assessment of SARAL/AltiKa data in the coastal band. The study focuses on the Ibiza Channel where the north-south water exchanges play a key role in controlling the circulation variability in the western Mediterranean. In this area, the track 16 of SARAL/AltiKa intercepts the domain covered by a coastal high-frequency (HF) radar system, which provides surface currents with a range up to 60 km. We evaluate the performance of the SARAL/AltiKa Ssalto/Duacs delayed-time along-track products compared to the HF radar surface velocity fields. SARAL/AltiKa data are retrieved at a distance of only 7 km from the coast, putting in evidence the emerging capabilities of the new altimeter. The derived velocities resolved the general features of the seasonal mesoscale variability with reasonable agreement with HF radar fields (significant correlations of 0.54). However, some discrepancies appear, which might be caused by instrumental hardware radar errors, ageostrophic velocities as well as inaccurate corrections and editing in the altimeter data. Root mean square (rms) differences between the estimated SARAL/AltiKa and the HF radar velocities are about 13 cm/s. These results are consistent with recent studies in other parts of the ocean applying similar approaches to Topex/Poseidon and Jason-1 missions and using coastal altimeter corrections.
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Keywords: Coastal currents; HF radar; SARAL-AltiKa; Ssalto/Duacs; satellite altimetry

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Instituto Mediterráneo de Estudios Avanzados (IMEDEA), CSIC-UIB, Mallorca, Spain 2: Balearic Islands Coastal Observing and Forecasting System (SOCIB), Mallorca, Spain 3: Collecte Localisation Satellites (CLS), Toulouse, France

Publication date: September 10, 2015

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