Abstract's details

Dual-band altimetry for polar science and oceanography: the Copernicus CRISTAL mission

Paolo Cipollini (ESA-ESTEC, Netherlands)


Günther March (ESA-ESTEC, Netherlands); Kristof Gantois (ESA-ESTEC, Netherlands); Franck Borde (ESA-ESTEC, Netherlands)

Event: 2022 Ocean Surface Topography Science Team Meeting

Session: Science IV: Altimetry for Cryosphere and Hydrology

Presentation type: Type Oral

Contribution: PDF file


Within the expansion of the Copernicus Sentinel Constellation, the Copernicus Polar Ice and Snow Topography Altimeter (CRISTAL) mission is being developed as a key contribution to Europe’s planned response to the need for monitoring of the polar regions. This need has clearly been identified by an EC-led user consultation process and by the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS). GCOS has recommended continuation of satellite synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) altimeter missions, like the altimeters on board CryoSat-2 and Sentinel-3. CRISTAL will fly to 88° latitude ensuring an almost complete coverage of the Arctic Ocean, as well as of the Antarctic ice sheet (like CryoSat-2, which is currently in its extended mission phase). CRISTAL will feature a dual Ku/Ka band SAR altimeter with interferometric capability on the Ku channel, the first instrument of this kind in space and expected to enable unprecedented measurements.

While the primary objectives of CRISTAL (i.e. measure and monitor variability of sea ice thickness and its snow depth, and measure and monitor the surface elevation and changes of polar glaciers and ice sheets) target mainly cryosphere science, this mission, exactly like CryoSat-2 is also expected to contribute significantly to oceanography. CRISTAL will allow observations of global ocean topography up to the polar seas, therefore contributing to global observations of mean sea level, mesoscale and sub-mesoscale currents, wind speed, and significant wave height. This information serves as critical input to operational oceanography and marine forecasting services so it feeds directly into Copernicus’ Marine and Climate Change Services.

In this presentation we will illustrate the advanced technical characteristics of CRISTAL, give an update on its development status (currently in Phase B2) and discuss how this mission extends the heritage of CryoSat-2 over the cryosphere, the oceans and inland waters. We will finally discuss how the dual-band capability is expected to enable new investigations in the marginal ice zone, in the coastal zone and on surface roughness-related effects, like the sea state bias.


Oral presentation show times:

Room Start Date End Date
Sala Grande Thu, Nov 03 2022,16:25 Thu, Nov 03 2022,16:35
Paolo Cipollini