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The role of RADS in building the 15-year altimetric record

Marc Naeije(1) , Ernst Schrama(1) , Eelco Doornbos(1) , and Remko Scharroo(2)

(1) TUDelft, Kluyverweg 1, 2629 HS Delft, Netherlands
(2) Altimetrics LLC, 330a Parsonage Road, Cornish, NH 03745, United States


To serve interdisciplinary research programs, applications and operational tasks on an international scale, operational observing systems like satellite altimetry call for International Services. DEOS anticipated this by launching the Radar Altimeter Database System (RADS) project in 2001. Since then RADS has been embedded in the Netherlands Earth Observation NETwork (NEONET) and as such has been supported by the Dutch government. In this project we set up and explored a facility to easily manage and access calibrated and validated altimeter data that are in many respects consistent throughout the data base. For this purpose we collected the altimeter and ancillary data from all available altimeter missions and combined them with the latest (correction) models and orbits, arriving at an internationally appreciated altimeter data set, comprising over 15 years worth of valuable sea level, wave height and wind data. To date, whenever new data (including the latest GFO, Jason-1 and Envisat data), models or knowledge arrive, the database is updated. This, however, is not RADS’ only asset. Much effort has been put in the building of a data organization incorporating common data and meta file formats and ultra-flexible file data augmentation, in the development of a web-interface (, not only providing access to (almost) raw, processed and value-added data, but also access to other altimeter related information, and in the development of RADS data utilities like data extractors and converters, a collinear track analyzer and a multi-satellite crossover generator. The RADS system has successfully been deployed at NOAA, SOC, KMS, and at three universities in SE-Asia. At TUDelft it is used both for research and education.


Full paper


                 Last modified: 07.10.03