Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 17 Issue 01

View Issue TOC
Volume 17, No. 1
Pages 8 - 23

OpenAccess

Conventional Bathymetry, Bathymetry from Space, and Geodetic Altimetry

Walter H.F. Smith David T. Sandwell
First Paragraph

This article offers a general introduction to those aspects of bathymetric mapping and satellite altimetry that are relevant to bathymetry from space. We begin with a review of some of the strengths and weaknesses of conventional bathymetric measurement and mapping. This context highlights the case for and value of space-based mapping: it is the only way to achieve globally uniform resolution within reasonable time and cost. However, a space mission cannot “see” the ocean floor directly; instead, it observes gravity anomalies that can be correlated with ocean floor topography. Geological factors and physical laws limit the resolution of this technique to a particular range of spatial scales (~100 km to ~5 km). While this is not perfect, it yields an enormous improvement in the resolution of global bottom roughness over traditional methods (Figure 1).

Citation

Smith, W.H.F., and D.T. Sandwell. 2004. Conventional bathymetry, bathymetry from space, and geodetic altimetry. Oceanography 17(1):8–23, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2004.63.

Copyright & Usage

This is an open access article made available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution, and reproduction in any medium or format as long as users cite the materials appropriately, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate the changes that were made to the original content. Images, animations, videos, or other third-party material used in articles are included in the Creative Commons license unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If the material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission directly from the license holder to reproduce the material.