OSTST and 25 years of altimetry

Today marks the start of the “25 Years of Progress in Radar Altimetry” symposium, running the whole week and taking place in Ponta Delgada, Azores.

Monday, 24 September 2018


From 24-29 September, the Altimetry community will meet to discuss many topics, covering the last 25 years of data and future projects. Organised by ESA in cooperation with EUMETSAT and CNES,this milestone event will consist of three parts: the 25 Years of Progress in Radar Altimetry, an International DORIS Service (IDS) workshop and an Ocean Surface Topography Science Team (OSTST) meeting.

Located conveniently between Europe and the US, the unique location of the Azores is the perfect place to discuss all things altimetry, as like most small islands, accurate sea level data is of great importance to the users there. Remko Scharroo, Altimetry Remote Sensing Scientist at EUMETSAT will be attending the event as both chair and speaker. We talked to him about his involvement in the symposium and what we can expect from the discussions.

“Since the last symposium, EUMETSAT now plays a very important role in altimetry and are a large distributor of data, with 5 missions currently (and the launch of the Copernicus Jason-CS/Sentinel-6 mission in 2 years will make 6). There are a lot more users of the data compared to 5 years ago, with more decision makers and countries becoming more aware of the fact that there is free, available data to use.”

Remko will deliver two presentations whilst there, the first on “Sea Level Rise as Measured by 11 Satellite Radar Altimeters” and the second on “Sentinel-3B commissioning: first results from the Level 2 Marine Products”. One of the things Remko is currently working on is creating a database to harmonise all of the data gathered over the years, and polishing up all of that data using the latest knowledge.

“There have been 13 altimetry satellites since 1991, each with their own characteristics and capabilities - which means we’ve had more than 25 years of continuous data. The first were the ERS-1 and TOPEX/Poseidon satellites, however, there have actually been altimetry satellites since the 1970s, though they were only for short missions, which means there are gaps in the data for that period. These symposiums are a great opportunity for us to look back at the data again and compare what we have now with what we have gathered since ERS-1.

Some argue that the data cannot all be accurate, as previous satellites had some issues in the past. However, I believe that all data is valid, and it depends on how the data is/was handled.”

In addition, Cristina Martin-Puig (Remote Sensing Scientist at EUMETSAT) will be presenting on “Sentinel-3A Contribution to the Continuity of Sea-Level Rise”, showing how the first two years of Sentinel-3A mean sea level observations match with those of the other missions.

The OSTST meetings, which are usually held once a year either in the US or Europe are more technical compared to the main event, which is more scientific-based.

“The OSTST meeting will also discuss the comparison between Sentinel-3A and -3B, and how their tandem orbit of 30 seconds apart means they have the opportunity to accurately compare data and provide us with a more accurate dataset.”

Remko will also participate in the poster sessions, and plans to discuss the products of the future Copernicus Jason-CS/Sentinel-6 satellite. He added “this is a useful opportunity for users to give feedback at an early stage and let us know what is missing, what they need etc.”

Other delegates of EUMETSAT will be there, representing at our booth and in other sessions. Cristian Bank, Director of Programme Preparation & Development will be at the roundtable for “Future Missions and Programmes” at the closing session of “25 Years of Progress in Radar Altimetry” on Wednesday 26 September. During the OSTST meeting there will be presentations from the programme managers of NASA, CNES, EUMETSAT, NOAA and ESA. François Parisot, Jason-CS Programme Manager will represent EUMETSAT.

Bruno Lucas and Salvatore Dinardo, Consultants at EUMETSAT will also have a presentation on Access to Sentinel-3 Marine Center data and details on observed drifts in the Sentinel-3A data.

You can find thefull week’s programme here.

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