Determination of the Ocean Circulation Using Geosat Altimetry
A spherical harmonic model of the sea surface topography complete to degree and order 10 and a model of the Earth's geopptential field complete to degree and order 50 have been obtained in a simultaneous solution using Geosat altimeter data and tracking data from 14 different satellites. The sea surface topography model compares well with oceanographic models computed using hydrographic data and ship drift data. Currently, errors in the estimated gravity field model limit the determination of the spherical harmonic coefficients of the general ocean circulation to degrees 10 and lower, corresponding to a minimum wavelength of 4000 km. Error analysis indicates that the correlation between the geoid and the sea surface topography model is less than 0.2, indicating good separation of the geoid and the sea surface topography at wavelengths of 4000 km or longer. Estimates of the scale factor for the significant wave height (H 1/3), which is used to compute the electromagnetic bias correction and the bias for the Geosat altimeter, are obtained. The estimate of the H 1/3 correction is 3.6 ± 1.5%, and the height bias estimate is zero.