Monitoring Sea Level in the Coastal Zone with Satellite Altimetry and Tide Gauges
We examine the issue of sustained measurements of sea level in the coastal zone, first by summarizing the long-term observations from tide gauges, then showing how those are now complemented by improved satellite altimetry products in the coastal ocean. We present some of the progresses in coastal altimetry, both from dedicated reprocessing of the radar waveforms and from the development of improved corrections for the atmospheric effects. This trend towards better altimetric data at the coast comes also from technological innovations such as Ka-band altimetry and SAR altimetry, and we discuss the advantages deriving from the AltiKa Ka-band altimeter and the SIRAL altimeter on CryoSat-2 that can be operated in SAR mode. A case study along the UK coast demonstrates the good agreement between coastal altimetry and tide gauge observations, with root mean square differences as low as 4 cm at many stations, allowing the characterization of the annual cycle of sea level along the UK coasts. Finally, we examine the evolution of the sea level trend from the open to the coastal ocean along the western coast of Africa, comparing standard and coastally improved products. Different products give different sea level trend profiles, so the recommendation is that additional efforts are needed to study sea level trends in the coastal zone from past and present satellite altimeters. Further improvements are expected from more refined processing and screening of data, but in particular from the constant improvements in the geophysical corrections.
KeywordsSea level Coastal zone Radar altimetry Coastal altimetry Tide gauge
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