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Open AccessArticle

S3MPC: Improvement on Inland Water Tracking and Water Level Monitoring from the OLTC Onboard Sentinel-3 Altimeters

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CLS, Parc Technologique du Canal, 11 Rue Hermès, 31520 Ramonville Saint-Agne, France
2
CNES, 18 Avenue Edouard Belin, CEDEX 31401 Toulouse, France
3
LEGOS, 14 Avenue Edouard Belin, 31400 Toulouse, France
4
ESA-ESRIN, Largo Galileo Galilei, 1, 00044 Frascati RM, Italy
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(18), 3055; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12183055
Received: 31 July 2020 / Revised: 15 September 2020 / Accepted: 16 September 2020 / Published: 18 September 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Calibration and Validation of Satellite Altimetry)
The Sentinel-3A and Sentinel-3B satellites were launched, respectively, on 16 February 2016 and 25 April 2018 as part of the European Copernicus program. The Sentinel-3 Surface Topography Mission makes use of the altimeter instruments onboard Sentinel-3A and Sentinel-3B to provide elevation measurements not only of the ocean water level but also of the inland waters and ice caps. For the first time, the altimeters onboard Sentinel-3A and Sentinel-3B are operated in Synthetic Aperture Radar mode over all Earth surfaces. They also benefit from elevation priors (the Open-Loop Tracking Command) allowing them to precisely position their receiving window to track the backscattered signal from the inland water targets to be monitored rather than relying on the traditional Closed-Loop tracking mode. This paper makes use of the Sentinel-3A/Sentinel-3B tandem phase to assess the benefits of the Open-Loop tracking mode compared to Closed-Loop. Longer time series are also used to highlight the improvements in terms of the percentage of points over which the altimeter hooks on water surfaces and water surface height estimation brought by the switch of Sentinel-3A from the Closed-Loop to Open-Loop tracking mode as well as the successive Open-Loop Tracking Command updates. In particular, it is shown that from a Level-3 water level product service perspective, the increase in the number of water bodies with valid water surface height estimates is of the order of 25% in Open-Loop with respect to Closed-Loop with similar precision. It is also emphasized that the Open-Loop Tracking Command update onboard Sentinel-3A from v. 4.2 to v. 5.0 yielded a 30% increase in the number of water bodies over which valid water surface height could be estimated. Eventually, the importance of knowing whether a water target was associated with a fine-tuned Open-Loop Tracking Command or an interpolated one is stressed and the recommendation to provide such a flag in the Sentinel-3 Level2 Payload Data Ground Segment products is emitted. View Full-Text
Keywords: altimetry; Sentinel-3; validation; SAR; inland waters; Open-Loop Tracking Command altimetry; Sentinel-3; validation; SAR; inland waters; Open-Loop Tracking Command
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Taburet, N.; Zawadzki, L.; Vayre, M.; Blumstein, D.; Le Gac, S.; Boy, F.; Raynal, M.; Labroue, S.; Crétaux, J.-F.; Femenias, P. S3MPC: Improvement on Inland Water Tracking and Water Level Monitoring from the OLTC Onboard Sentinel-3 Altimeters. Remote Sens. 2020, 12, 3055.

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