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Cristina Martin-Puig, Eric Leuliette, John Lillibridge, and Mònica Roca

Abstract

The Poseidon-3 altimeter on board Jason-2 includes a significant new capability with respect to its predecessors, an open-loop [Détermination Immédiate d’Orbite par Doris Embarqué (DIODE)/digital elevation model (DEM)] tracker mode. This innovative mode is capable of successfully tracking the backscatter signal over rapidly varying terrains, and thus it overcomes one of the limitations of the closed-loop Poseidon-2 tracker on board Jason-1. DIODE/DEM achieves this improvement thanks to a predetermined DEM on board that, when combined with DIODE orbit ephemeris, provides improved acquisition timing and reduced data loss in the coastal zone. As a further enhancement, Jason-3 and the Sentinel-3 programs will be capable of autonomously switching to this innovative mode in selected regions. To help recommend how these missions should utilize DIODE/DEM, the authors studied the impact of the tracker mode on the accuracy and precision of wave heights and wind speed, the continuity of the sea level climate data record, and the coverage in coastal regions. The results show close agreement between the open- and closed-loop tracker modes over the open ocean with the exception of some differences at high-tidal variability areas, the coastal zone, and sea ice regions. The DIODE/DEM tracker shows better performance than the closed-loop tracker mode at the coast and in the presence of sea ice. Jason-2, when operating in open-loop mode, allows for an approximately 5% increase of successful acquisitions at the ocean-to-land transition. However, open-loop tracking exhibits more variability in regions of high tides than closed-loop.

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