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Sea Surface HeightHeight measured by altimetry. Not the sea’s depth (i.e., the distance from the surface to the ocean floor), but a height measured with respect to an arbitrary reference level, called the reference ellipsoid. The sea surface height includes the geoid and the dynamic topography, which is the height due to ocean circulation. This dynamic topography includes a permanent component (permanent circulation) and a highly variable component driven by variations in currents, winds, tides, surface temperatures, and so on.