Over the last few decades, satellite altimetry has proven to be valuable for monitoring lake levels. With the new generation of altimetry missions, CryoSat-2 and Sentinel-3, which operate in Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and SAR Interferometric (SARIn) modes, the footprint size is reduced to approximately 300 m in the along-track direction. Here, the performance of these new modes is investigated in terms of uncertainty of the estimated water level from CryoSat-2 data and the agreement with in situ data. The data quality is compared to conventional low resolution mode (LRM) altimetry products from Envisat, and the performance as a function of the lake area is tested. Based on a sample of 145 lakes with areas ranging from a few to several thousand km2, the CryoSat-2 results show an overall superior performance. For lakes with an area below 100 km2, the uncertainty of the lake levels is only half of that of the Envisat results. Generally, the CryoSat-2 lake levels also show a better agreement with the in situ data. The lower uncertainty of the CryoSat-2 results entails a more detailed description of water level variations.
- Satellite altimetry
- Water level