Accuracy of the mean sea level continuous record with future altimetric missions: Jason-3 versus Sentinel-3a
Event: 2015 Ocean Surface Topography Science Team Meeting
Session: Quantifying Errors and Uncertainties in Altimetry data
Presentation type: Type Oral
The current Mean Sea Level (MSL) continuous record, essential for the understanding of climate evolution, is computed with the altimetric measurements of the TOPEX/Poseidon mission, succeeded by Jason-1 and later Jason-2. The accurate continuity of the record is ensured by the conservation of the “historical” TOPEX orbit, but also by calibration phases between the successive missions which enable a rigorous computation of their relative biases. In order to extend the current MSL record, Jason-3 will be the natural successor of Jason-2: on the same orbit with a calibration phase. Shortly after Jason-3, another altimetric climate-oriented mission, Sentinel-3a, will be launched on a different orbit. In this paper, simulated altimetric sea level data is used to study the sensitivity of the MSL continuous record to the change of the “historical” orbit for the new Sentinel-3a orbit. By estimating the impact of the absence of calibration phase on the MSL continuous record trend accuracy at global and regional scale and the impact of the orbit change on the long-term continuity of this MSL record, this study shows that linking Sentinel-3a data instead of Jason-3 to the MSL continuous record would prevent from meeting climate users requirements regarding the MSL trend accuracy.