Retrieving Sea Level and Freeboard in the Arctic: A Review of Current Radar Altimetry Methodologies and Future Perspectives

Graham D. Quartly*, Eero Rinne, Marcello Passaro, Ole B. Andersen, Salvatore Dinardo, Sara Fleury, Amandine Guillot, Stefan Hendricks, Andrey A. Kurekin, Felix L. Mueller, Robert Ricker, Henriette Skourup, Michel Tsamados

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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    Spaceborne radar altimeters record echo waveforms over all Earth surfaces, but their interpretation and quantitative exploitation over the Arctic Ocean is particularly challenging. Radar returns may be from all ocean, all sea ice, or a mixture of the two, so the first task is the determination of which surface and then an interpretation of the signal to give range. Subsequently, corrections have to be applied for various surface and atmospheric effects before making a comparison with a reference level. This paper discusses the drivers for improved altimetry in the Arctic and then reviews the various approaches that have been used to achieve the initial classification and subsequent retracking over these diverse surfaces, showing examples from both LRM (low resolution mode) and SAR (synthetic aperture radar) altimeters. The review then discusses the issues concerning corrections, including the choices between using other remote-sensing measurements and using those from models or climatology. The paper finishes with some perspectives on future developments, incorporating secondary frequency, interferometric SAR and opportunities for fusion with measurements from laser altimetry or from the SMOS salinity sensor, and provides a full list of relevant abbreviations.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number881
    JournalRemote Sensing
    Issue number7
    Number of pages47
    Publication statusPublished - 2019


    • Altimetry
    • Classification
    • Retracking
    • Arctic oceanography
    • Sea-ice
    • Freeboard
    • Review
    • Future vision


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