Waves breaking on sea wall

Altimetry services


Waves breaking on sea wall
Waves breaking on sea wall

Altimetry data can be used to determine sea and lake surface height, significant wave height, surface wind speed, and sea ice height and thickness.

Last Updated

31 May 2022

Published on

27 July 2018

EUMETSAT operates several satellites with altimetry instruments on board – Sentinel-3, Sentinel-6, and Jason-3. EUMETSAT delivers data from these instruments, as well as providing access to historical data from Jason-2.

Example altimeter waveforms from Sentinel-3A for a pass over the Arctic. The different response to sea ice, land, and open ocean can be seen.
Figure 1: Altimeter waveforms of Sentinel-3A for a pass over the Arctic. The different response to sea ice, land, and open ocean can be seen.

Altimetry applications, key variables and available products and timeliness applications

Main applications Products Timeliness Main variables
Real time operational oceanography
Marine nowcasting
Operational wave forecasting
Near Real Time (NRT)
(Sentinel-3 and 6)
Operational Geophysical Data Record (Jason-3)
3 hours (Sentinel-3 and 6)
3-5 hours (Jason-3)
Significant Wave Height (SWH)
Surface Wind Speed (WIND)
Sea Surface Height (SSH)
Operational oceanography
Seasonal forecasting
Slow Time Critical (STC)
(Sentinel-3 and 6*)
36 hours (Sentinel-6)
48 hours (Sentinel-3)
More accurate Sea Surface Height (SSH)
Sea level monitoring
Climate monitoring
Climate research
Non Time Critical (NTC) (Sentinel-3 and 6)
Geophysical Data Record (Jason-2 and 3)
30 days (Sentinel-3 and 6)
60 days (Jason-3)
Most accurate Sea Surface Height (SSH)

*equivalent to the interim geophysical data record

How to get altimetry data

Users need to be registered to get access to the altimetry products. To do this you need to use our Earth Observation Portal (EOP). To access the Earth Observation Portal (EOP) for the first time, users need to create an account. Once the account has been created, you can log in to view and modify your profile, service subscriptions and licence arrangements.

Altimetry products are available via:

For Sentinel-3

For Sentinel-6


For Jason-3

  • Via EUMETCast, GTS and EUMETSAT Data Centre

For Jason-2

  • Jason-2 is no longer in operations. As such, historical data is only available via the EUMETSAT Data Centre.

Note: Not all products are available via all services. For clarity please see the Product Navigator, user support confluence and recent product news and notices. For any questions contact our User Service Helpdesk.

All Sentinel data products are distributed using a Sentinel-specific variation of the Standard Archive Format for Europe (SAFE) format specification. The information is contained in a single package, with objects encoded in NetCDF format.

Full details can be found on the Sentinel data formats page and product specific pages within the Sentinel-3 knowledge base.