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Radar Altimetry Tutorial

Predicting climate, monitoring mean sea level, river and lake levels, global warming, El Niño and La Niña events, marine currents and ocean circulation, tides, geoid estimates, wind, wave and marine meteorology models, ice sheet topography and sea ice extent, etc. Radar altimetry can provide such a wealth of information -- and more -- from its measurements.

This Radar Altimetry Tutorial describes applications, examples (data use cases) and techniques, including standard data processing, as well as the various satellite missions that have carried, are carrying or will carry a radar altimeter onboard, plus a range of altimetry products (data, software and documentation).

A Basic Radar Altimetry Toolbox is also available. This is a collection of tools and documents designed to facilitate the use of radar altimetry data. It can read most distributed radar altimetry data, from ERS-1 & 2, Topex/Poseidon, Geosat Follow-on, Jason-1 and 2, Envisat to the Cryosat mission, and can perform processing and data editing, extraction of statistics, and visualisation of results.

Download this tutorial in pdf (10.2 MB)


The latest version (v3.1.0) of the Basic Radar Altimetry Toolbox (BRAT) was released on March 21, 2012

Information within this tutorial has been last updated on February 16, 2011.
Updates are made yearly. Note that some information can therefore have changed by the time you will be reading this document.
The first version of this document was published on November 2006.

Acknowledgments & contributors

This tutorial was produced by CLS under contract to ESA and CNES.


If using this tutorial, please cite:
Rosmorduc, V., J. Benveniste, E. Bronner, S. Dinardo, O. Lauret, C. Maheu, M. Milagro, N. Picot, Radar Altimetry Tutorial, J. Benveniste and N. Picot Ed.,, 2011.


V. Rosmorduc (CLS), J. Benveniste (ESA), E. Bronner (CNES), S. Dinardo (SERCO), O. Lauret (CLS), C. Maheu (Akka), M. Milagro (SERCO), N. Picot (CNES)


J. Benveniste (ESA), N. Picot (CNES)

Scientific committee

G. Goni (NOAA, USA), S. Laxon (UCL, UK), J.M. Lefèvre (Météo France, France), C. Maes (IRD, New Caledonia), F. Rémy (Legos/CNRS, France), J. Tournadre (Ifremer, France)


Thanks to M. Ablain, L. Amarouche, L. Carrère, J. Dorandeu, J.P. Dumont, P. Escudier, S. Guinehut, S. Labroue, F. Lefèvre, F. Mercier, P. Schaeffer, P. Thibaut, O.Z. Zanifé (CLS) for inputs and advices


All rights reserved, copyright © 2006-2011
Tutorial produced by CLS under contract to ESA and CNES