The Midlatitude Resolution Capability of Sea Level Fields Constructed from Single and Multiple Satellite Altimeter Datasets

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  • A formalism recently developed for determining the effects of sampling errors on objectively smoothed fields constructed from an irregularly sampled dataset is applied to investigate the relative merits of single and multiple satellite altimeter missions. For small smoothing parameters, the expected squared error of smoothed fields of sea surface height (SSH) varies geographically at any particular time and temporally at any particular location. The philosophy proposed here for determining the resolution capability of SSH fields constructed from altimeter data is to identify smoothing parameters that are sufficiently large to satisfy two criteria: 1) the expected squared errors of the estimates of smoothed SSH over the space–time estimation grid must be either spatially and temporally homogeneous to within some a priori specified degree of tolerance or smaller than some a priori specified threshold, and 2) the space–time estimation grid on which smoothed SSH estimates are constructed must satisfy the Nyquist criteria for the wavenumbers and frequencies included in the smoothed fields. The method is illustrated here by adopting a specified tolerance of 10% variability and a nominal expected squared error threshold of 1 cm² to determine the resolution capabilities of SSH fields constructed from 10 single and multiple combinations of altimeter measurements by TOPEX/Poseidon, the ERS Earth Resource Satellites, and Geosat. Because of the lack of coordination of the orbit configurations of these satellites (different repeat periods and different orbit inclinations), the mapping resolution capabilities of the combined datasets are not significantly better than those of fields constructed from TOPEX/Poseidon data alone. The benefits of coordinated multiple missions are demonstrated by consideration of several multiple combinations of 10-, 17-, and 35-day orbit configurations.
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  • Greenslade, Diana J. M., Dudley B. Chelton, Michael G. Schlax, 1997: The Midlatitude Resolution Capability of Sea Level Fields Constructed from Single and Multiple Satellite Altimeter Datasets. Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology, 14, 849–870.
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  • 14
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  • 4
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  • This research was supported by Contract 958127 from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory funded under the TOPEX/ Poseidon Announcement of Opportunity and by Grant NAGW-3510 from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.



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