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The COASTALT Project

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).

Outcome of Phase 1: Phase 1 of COASTALT ended on 2 Nov 2009. Some deliverables from this phase are available in the results page although many will hav been updated by the work done in Phase 2. The presentation given at the AGU 2009 FM and the poster presented at EGU 2010 summarize our main results and findings from Phase 1. 

Outcome of Phase 2: Phase 2 started in December 2009, and ended in late 2011. The COASTALT executive summary has highlights of the results and lists all the recommendations stemming from the whole COASTALT project. You may also want to see also see Paolo Cipollini's Executive Summary presentation for the final COASTALT open workshop, a summary of that workshop, and the recent summary talk, as well as a list of recommendations from COASTALT, given by Paolo at the 5th Coastal Altimetry Workshop.  Several technical reports detailing the results from Phase 2 are available in the results page.

All the papers, presentations and posters from both phases of the project are available via the COASTALT bibliography page. Pilot data from COASTALT can be accessed from the link at the bottom of this page.

The rationale - or why we need COASTALT

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 (one good example is the monitoring and studying of storm surges which is being carried out by the ESA DUE eSurge Project). Recovering that information requires the development of ad hoc techniques for processing the raw altimetric data in proximity of the coast, but once those techniques are up and running, more than 20 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 the OceanObs'09 paper by the international community of altimetrists.

The legacy of COASTALT 

COASTALT has been an incubator of ideas for coastal altimetry and a catalyst for the international community of Coastal Altimetry specialists. The Coastal Altimetry workshops, in particular, remain as a lasting legacy of the project and of companion projects like CNES's PISTACH and some OSTST ones

Access to COASTALT Pilot Envisat Data via FTP:

Access to the data is free, but please fill this form first and make sure you read the README_FIRST disclaimer before using the data!