Improving the Coastal Mean Dynamic Topography by Geodetic Combination of Tide Gauge and Satellite Altimetry

Ole Baltazar Andersen*, Karina Nielsen, Per Knudsen, C. W. Hughes, Rory Bingham, Luciana Fenoglio-Marc, Médéric Gravelle, Michael Kern, Sara Padilla Polo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
200 Downloads (Pure)


The ocean mean dynamic topography (MDT) is the surface representation of the ocean circulation. The MDT may be determined by the ocean approach, which involves temporal averaging of numerical ocean circulation model information, or by the geodetic approach, wherein the MDT is derived using the ellipsoidal height of the mean sea surface (MSS), or mean sea level (MSL) minus the geoid as the geoid. The ellipsoidal height of the MSS might be estimated either by satellite or coastal tide gauges by connecting the tide gauge datum to the Earth-centred reference frame. In this article we present a novel approach to improve the coastal MDT, where the solution is based on both satellite altimetry and tide gauge data using new set of 302 tide gauges with ellipsoidal heights through the SONEL network. The approach was evaluated for the Northeast Atlantic coast where a dense network of GNSS-surveyed tide gauges is available. The typical misfit between tide gauge and satellite or oceanographic MDT was found to be around 9 cm. This misfit was found to be mainly due to small scale geoid errors. Similarly, we found, that a single tide gauge places only weak constraints on the coastal dynamic topography.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)517-545
Number of pages29
JournalMarine Geodesy
Issue number6
Early online date11 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018


  • Mean dynamic topography
  • satellite altimetry
  • tide gauge


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