Satellite altimeters have been producing, as of 1992, an amazing and historic record of sea level changes. As Europe moves into full operational altimetry, it has become imperative that the quality of these monitoring signals with their uncertainties should be controlled, fully and properly descripted, but also traced and connected to undisputable standards and units. Excellent quality is the foundation of these operational services of Europe in altimetry. In line with the above, the strategy of the Fiducial Reference Measurements for Altimetry (FRM4ALT) has been introduced to address and to achieve reliable, long-term, consistent, and undisputable satellite altimetry products for Earth observation and for sea-level change monitoring. FRM4ALT has been introduced and implemented by the European Space Agency in an effort to reach a uniform and absolute standardization for calibrating satellite altimeters. This paper examines the problem and the need behind the FRM4ALT principle to achieve an objective Earth observation. Secondly, it describes the expected FRM products and services which are to come into being out of this new observational strategy. Thirdly, it outlines the technology and the services required for reaching this goal. And finally, it elaborates upon the necessary resources, skills, partnerships, and facilities for establishing FRM standardization for altimetry.
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