Intercomparison and validation of continental water level products derived from satellite radar altimetry

Abstract : Satellite radar altimeter measurements of lake and reservoir water levels complement in situ observations by providing stage information for ungauged basins and by filling data gaps in existing gauge records. Such additional measurements assist both research and operational programs. However, for a particular lake or reservoir, altimetric products offered to end-users may differ due to choice of employed instrument, processing technique, and applied geophysical corrections. To explore these differences, particularly with their potential impact on climate-based research, an intercomparison of three web-based water-level products (produced by Laboratoire d'Etudes en Geophysique et Oceanographie Spatiale, National Aeronautics and Space Administration/United States Department of Agriculture, and European Space Agency/De Montfort University) has been undertaken based on 18 lakes and reservoirs. The products are well correlated with each other (r = 0.87 to 0.99) and where in situ data are available are quite well correlated with the gauge measurements (r = 0.73 to 0.99). Despite variations in data processing, the poorest root-mean-square differences between any altimeter product and gauge data (similar to 0.20 to 1.41 m) occur for the narrow reservoirs and smaller lakes. The largest discrepancies between the altimeter products occur for the lakes that freeze (Lake Athabasca and Woods). The current altimeter products provide acceptable accuracy, long-term trends and seasonality for climate applications. We discuss the merits of each product system, but recommend further validations and the provision of ice-detection flags. (C) 2012 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). [DOI: 10.1117/1.JRS.6.061710]
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M. Ricko, C. M. Birkett, J. A. Carton, J. F. Cretaux. Intercomparison and validation of continental water level products derived from satellite radar altimetry. Journal of applied remote sensing, Bellingham, WA : SPIE, 2012, 6, pp.23. ⟨10.1117/1.jrs.6.061710⟩. ⟨hal-00991317⟩

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