Computation of a precise mean sea surface in the eastern north Pacific using SEASAT altimetry

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Abstract

Satellite altimetry has application to both solid earth and ocean dynamics research. Because the mean surface of the ocean coincides with the geoid to within about 1 m, three-dimensional maps constructed from grids of altimeter measurements yield information about the gravity field and processes taking place in and beneath the earth's crust. At the same time, statistical analyses of the altimeter data used to construct the surface can provide a survey of the mesoscale eddy field [Cheney and Marsh, 1981].

This short report presents results obtained by using SEASAT altimetry in a 5000×5000 km area of the eastern North Pacific. We hope to illustrate several points: the precision of the SEASAT data, the power of the crossing-arc technique employed in the data reduction, and the geodetic/oceanographic implications of precise altimetric maps.

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