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A Tutorial Assessment of Atmospheric Height Uncertainties for High-Precision Satellite Altimeter Missions to Monitor Ocean Currents

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2 Author(s)
Goldhirsh, J. ; Applied Physics Laboratory, Johns Hopkins University, Laurel, MD 20707 ; Rowland, John R.

A large body of information from a number of sources is brought together and an error budget is deduced giving the projected overall height uncertainty correction for a suggested next generation high-precision radar altimeter. Uncertainties introduced by the wet and dry troposphere, clouds, and the ionosphere are reviewed. A suggested next-generation precision altimeter is assumed to be dual frequency (13.5 and 6 GHz) designed to correct out the ionospheric error. The altimeter-carrying satellite will include a nadir pointing near coincidentbeam dual-frequency microwave radiometer for mitigating the wet tropospheric uncertainty. Although there are a number of caveats, the combined uncertainty in the height correction due to the atmosphere for the suggested system should be nominally 3 cm rms compared to at least 6 cm associated with the Seasat-A mission. Improvements in height resolution of the kind referred to here are vital for future satellite missions designed to monitor ocean currents (e.g., TOPEX).

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Geoscience and Remote Sensing, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:GE-20 ,  Issue: 4 )