This article describes absolute calibration results for both JASON-1 and TOPEX Side B (TSB) altimeters obtained at the Lake Erie calibration site, Marblehead, Ohio, USA. Using 15 overflights, the estimated JASON altimeter bias at Marblehead is 58 ± 38 mm, with an uncertainty of 19 mm based on detailed error analysis. Assuming that the TSB bias is negligible, relative bias estimates using both data from the TSB-JASON formation flight period and data from 48 water level gauges around the entire Great Lakes confirmed the Marblehead results. Global analyses using both the formation flight data and dual-satellite (TSB and JASON) crossovers yield a similar relative bias estimate of 146 ± 59 mm, which agrees well with open ocean absolute calibration results obtained at Harvest, Corsica, and Bass Strait (e.g., Watson et al. 2003). We find that there is a strong dependence of bias estimates on the choice of sea state bias (SSB) models. Results indicate that the invariant JASON instrument bias estimated oceanwide is 71 mm, with additional biases of 76 mm or 28 mm contributed by the choice of Collecte Localisation Satellites (CLS) SSB or Center for Space Research (CSR) SSB model, respectively. Similar analysis in the Great Lakes yields the invariant JASON instrument bias at 19 mm, with the SSB contributed biases at 58 mm or 13 mm, respectively. The reason for the discrepancy is currently unknown and warrants further investigation. Finally, comparison of the TOPEX/POSEIDON mission (1992–2002) data with the Great Lakes water level gauge measurements yields a negligible TOPEX altimeter drift of 0.1 mm/yr.
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