An empirical noise model for the benefit of model-based hydrodynamic leveling

Y. Afrasteh*, D. C. Slobbe, M. Verlaan, R. Klees, H. Guarneri, L. Keyzer, J. Pietrzak, M. Sacher, M. Snellen, F. Zijl

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
66 Downloads (Pure)


The main objective of this study is to develop and analyze an empirical noise model for model-derived coastal summer mean water levels (SMWLs) and use that to obtain a more realistic quality impact of combining hydrodynamic leveling and Unified European Leveling Network (UELN) data in realizing the European Vertical Reference System (EVRS). We considered three state-of-the-art hydrodynamic models for the Northeast Atlantic Ocean, including the North Sea and Wadden Sea; AMM7, DCSMv6-ZUNOv4, and 3D DCSM-FM. Moreover, we assess the spatiotemporal performance of these three models in representing coastal SMWLs. The empirical noise models are determined from the differences between observation- and model-derived SMWLs at coastal tide gauges. All three noise models show that the model noise is indeed correlated over sea distances up to hundreds of kilometers. At the same time, they all show a relatively large discontinuity at the origin (i.e., nugget effect); between 12.1 cm2 (3D DCSM-FM) and 16.3 cm2 (DCSMv6-ZUNOv4). The variance (i.e., covariance at zero sea distance) for these two models is 15.3 cm2 and 21.7 cm2, respectively. Averaging the water levels over three summers, lowered the variance and nugget effect for 3D DCSM-FM to 12.7 cm2 and 10.0 cm2, respectively. Our analysis also showed that between 30 and 50% of the variance has to be attributed to errors in the vertical referencing of the tide gauges. We lacked the information to assess what proportion of the observed noise covariances should be attributed to these errors. The performance assessments revealed significant variations over both space and time as well as among the three hydrodynamic models. The results suggest that there is still room for model improvement. In the final experiments, we used the noise model of the best overall performing model (i.e., 3D DCSM-FM) to reassess the quality impact of combining hydrodynamic leveling and UELN data in realizing the EVRS. The results suggest that not including the noise covariances leads to an overestimation of the total quality impact by 7 % and 8 % , when we average the water levels over one and three summer periods, respectively.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Geodesy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Empirical noise model
  • Hydrodynamic leveling
  • Tide gauge


Dive into the research topics of 'An empirical noise model for the benefit of model-based hydrodynamic leveling'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this