Arctic Ocean Sea Level Record from the Complete Radar Altimetry Era: 1991-2018

Stine Kildegaard Rose*, Ole Baltazar Andersen, Marcello Passaro, Carsten Ankjær Ludwigsen, Christian Schwatke

*Corresponding author for this work

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In recent years, there has been a large focus on the Arctic due to the rapid changes of the region. Arctic sea level determination is challenging due to the seasonal to permanent sea-ice cover, lack of regional coverage of satellites, satellite instruments ability to measure ice, insufficient geophysical models, residual orbit errors, challenging retracking of satellite altimeter data. We present the European Space Agency (ESA) Climate Change Initiative (CCI) Technical University of Denmark (DTU)/Technischen Universitat Munchen (TUM) sea level anomaly (SLA) record based on radar satellite altimetry data in the Arctic Ocean from the European Remote Sensing satellite number 1 (ERS-1) (1991) to CryoSat-2 (2018). We use updated geophysical corrections and a combination of altimeter data: Reprocessing of Altimeter Product for ERS (REAPER) (ERS-1), ALES+ retracker (ERS-2, Envisat), combination of Radar Altimetry Database System (RADS) and DTUs in-house retracker LARS (CryoSat-2). Furthermore, this study focuses on the transition between conventional and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) altimeter data to make a smooth time series regarding the measurement method. We find a sea level rise of 1.54 mm/year from September 1991 to September 2018 with a 95% confidence interval from 1.16 to 1.81 mm/year. ERS-1 data is troublesome and when ignoring this satellite the SLA trend becomes 2.22 mm/year with a 95% confidence interval within 1.67-2.54 mm/year. Evaluating the SLA trends in 5 year intervals show a clear steepening of the SLA trend around 2004. The sea level anomaly record is validated against tide gauges and show good results. Additionally, the time series is split and evaluated in space and time.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1672
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number14
Number of pages29
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Radar altimetry
  • Satellite altimetry
  • Arctic ocean
  • Remote sensing of the oceans
  • Sea level rise
  • Polar area

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