COASTALT was a Project on "Development of Radar Altimetry Data Processing in the Coastal Zone" funded by the European Space Agency (ESA/ESRIN contract 21201/08/I-LG) whose main objective was to contribute to the transition of pulse-limited coastal altimetry towards a mature, pre-operational status , by defining and testing new coastal radar altimeter products. This is ultimately to prepare the way for a routine generation and distribution of such products by ESA, first from the RA-2 altimeter on board Envisat but then also from the instruments on ERS-1 and ERS-2 (and now also Cryosat-2, plus Sentinel-3 in the future).
While altimetry over the open ocean is a mature discipline, incredibly useful both for process studies and operational forecasting, in the coastal zone (the strip within a few tens of km from the coast) data are often discarded (i.e. flagged as bad) simply because we do not know well how to interpret/model land effects on the altimetric waveforms, and/or lack adequate corrections for various effects such as path delays, coastal tides, high frequency atmospheric signals. But we believe that the information hidden in those 'bad data' can be recovered - and that once that is done, that information will be invaluable to study the very region where the impact of the changing ocean on society is strongest - the coastal strip. Recovering that information requires the development of ad hoc techniques for processing the raw atlimetric data in proximity of the coast, but once those techniques are up and running, more than 18 years of data from several missions are ready to be reprocessed in the archives... a tantalizing prospect! To know more on the role of Coastal Altimetry, including examples of its application, see this recent paper by the international community of altimetrists.
Further information can be found on the COASTALT web page. The data that was disseminated is of particular interest to GlobWave users due to the retrieval of the significant wave height parameter.
Please contact Paolo Cipollini for further details.