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Comparison of ice-sheet satellite altimeter retracking algorithms

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1 Author(s)
Davis, C.H. ; Dept. of Electr. & Comput. Eng., Missouri Univ., Kansas City, MO, USA

The NASA and ESA retracking algorithms are compared with an algorithm based upon a combined surface and volume (S/V) scattering model. First, the S/V, NASA, and ESA algorithms were used to retrack over 1.3 million altimeter return waveforms from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. The surface elevations from the S/V algorithm were compared with the elevations produced by the NASA and ESA algorithms to determine the relative accuracy of these algorithms when subsurface volume scattering occurs. The results show that the ESA25% algorithm produced slightly higher surface elevations than the S/V algorithm. The NASA retracking algorithm produced lower surface elevations than the SN retracking algorithm, with average differences ranging from -0.3 to -0.9 m. The lower NASA elevations can only account for a portion of previously reported differences between altimeter and geoceiver surface elevations, suggesting that the remainder is probably due to orbital differences. Next, by analyzing several thousand satellite crossover points from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, the author estimated the repeatability of the surface elevations derived from the different retracking algorithms. The elevations derived from the ESA25% and S/V algorithm had the smallest standard deviations for the crossover differences for a time period where no significant change in surface elevation should occur. The NASA standard deviations were approximately 0.2 m larger than those from the ESA25% and S/V algorithm, which represents an average increase in error of approximately 0.5 m in the datasets. Since previous ice-sheet growth estimates have been based upon the elevations produced by the NASA retracking algorithm, further work needs to be conducted to determine if the ESA25% or S/V retracking algorithms produce growth estimates that are significantly different from the previous estimates

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Geoscience and Remote Sensing, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:34 ,  Issue: 1 )