This special issue publishes peer reviewed papers stemming from the International Workshop on Coast and Land applications of satellite altimetry, held 21 -22 July 2006, Beijing, China. This workshop is financially supported by the Chinese Academy of Surveying and Mapping, National Chiao Tung University, Asia GIS and GPS Co., Chung-Hsing Surv. Co., Huanyu Surv. Eng. Cons. Inc., and Real-World Eng. Cons. Inc. Twenty-two papers were submitted to this issue for review, and 16 papers were accepted following an iterative peer-review process. The accepted papers cover subjects on: ICESat coastal altimetry (1), satellite altimetry applications in solid earth sciences (2), hydrology (4), land/coast gravity field modeling (4), and coastal oceanography (5).