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Sea Surface Height Measurement Using a GNSS Wave Glider

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Nigel Penna, Dr Miguel Morales MaquedaORCiD, Dr Ian Martin, Dr Jing Guo



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


To overcome spatial and temporal limitations of sea surface height instruments such as tide gauges, satellite altimetry, and Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) buoys, we investigate the use of an unmanned, self‐propelled Wave Glider surface vehicle equipped with a geodetic GNSS receiver. Centimetric precision instantaneous sea surface height measurement is demonstrated from a 13‐day deployment in the North Sea, during which the glider traversed a track of about 600 km. Ellipsoidal heights were estimated at 5 Hz using kinematic GNSS precise point positioning and, after correcting for tides using the Finite Element Solution 2014b model and for the geoid using the Earth Gravitational Model 2008, hourly dynamic ocean topography measurements agreed with those from the UK Met Office Forecasting Ocean Assimilation Model‐Atlantic Margin Model 7 to 6.1‐cm standard deviation. Conversely, on correcting for the tides and dynamic ocean topography, 5.1‐cm standard deviation agreement with Earth Gravitational Model 2008 at its North Sea spatial resolution was obtained. Hourly measurements of significant wave height agreed with the WAVEWATCH III model and WaveNet buoy observations to 17 and 24 cm (standard deviation), respectively, and dominant wave periods to 1.4 s. These precisions were obtained in winds gusting up to 20 m/s.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Penna NT, Morales Maqueda MA, Martin I, Guo J, Foden PR

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Geophysical Research Letters

Year: 2018

Volume: 45

Issue: 11

Pages: 5609-5616

Print publication date: 16/06/2018

Online publication date: 29/05/2018

Acceptance date: 23/05/2018

Date deposited: 20/06/2018

ISSN (print): 0094-8276

ISSN (electronic): 1944-8007

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.


DOI: 10.1029/2018GL077950


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