Ocean tides from satellite altimetry and GRACE
Satellite altimetry and GRACE observations carry both the signature of ocean tides and have in general complementary potential to resolve tidal constituents. It is therefore straightforward to perform a combined estimation of a global ocean tide model based on these two data sources. The present paper develops and applies a three step procedure for generating such a combined ocean tide model. First, the processing of multi-mission altimetry data is described along with the harmonic analysis applied to derive initially a pure empirical ocean tide model. Then the capability of GRACE to sense particular tidal constituents is elaborated and an approach to estimate tidal constituents from GRACE is outlined. In a third step a combination strategy with optimal stochastic data treatment is developed and applied to the altimetry-only tide model EOT08a and four years of GRACE observations, leading to the combined model EOT08ag. The differential contributions of GRACE to EOT08ag remain small and are mainly concentrated to the Arctic Ocean, an area with little or poor altimetry data. In comparison with other tide models, EOT08ag is validated by K-band range residuals, the impact on gravity field modelling and on precise orbit determination and by variance reduction of crossover differences. None of these comparison exhibits a significant improvement over the altimetry-only tide model except for a few areas above 60°N. Overall the improvements of the combination remain small and appear to stay below the current GRACE baseline accuracy.
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