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SARAL/AltiKa Global Statistical Assessment and Cross-Calibration with Jason-2

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The CNES/ISRO mission SARAL/AltiKa was successfully launched on 25 February 2013. It reached its nominal orbit on 13 March 2013. AltiKa is the first altimeter using the Ka-band frequency. This article presents the results of the calibration and validation activities perfromed on the first year of the SARAL/AltiKa mission. The main objective of the article is to assess the SARAL/AltiKa data quality and to estimate the altimeter system performance using GDR products. To achieve this goal, we present mono-mission metrics and compare them with Jason-2 over the same period. Even if these missions do not have the same ground track, precise comparisons are still possible. They allow assessing parameter discrepancies and SSH consistency between both missions in order to detect geographically correlated biases, jumps or drifts. These results show that SARAL/AltiKa data quality is excellent: ocean data coverage is greater than 99.5%, standard deviation at cross-overs is 5.4 cm. The mission therefore fulfills the requirements of high precision altimetry and can be used (in conjunction with Jason-2) to monitor the global mean sea level, ensuring the continuity of the record over ERS/Envisat historical ground track. Possible improvements and open issues are also identified, foreseeing an even better mission performance.
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Keywords: altika; altimetry; calibration/validation; mean sea level; saral; sea level

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Collecte Localisation Satellites (CLS), DOS/PMC, Ramonville, St-Agne, France 2: Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES), Toulouse, France

Publication date: September 10, 2015

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