Altimeter Significant Wave Height

Comparisons with buoy data show that altimeter SWH estimates are in agreement with the in situ data, with standard deviations of differences on the order of 0.30 m, but the satellite data tends to slightly overestimate low SWH and slightly underestimate high SWH. The altimeter SWH data thus needs to be bias corrected before being used in the assimilation. These bias corrections are generally linear and are derived from altimeter/buoy matchups that correspond to corrections of only a few percent of SWH. Altimeter SWH data can also be contaminated by sea ice or land. Elimination of these data requires a contemporaneous sea ice concentration field, either from a forecast model or an analysis of SSM/I and SSMIS sea ice retrievals. The land mask needs to resolve the along-track 7-km footprint of the altimeter SWH data.

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