Largest sea-surface salinity dataset to date helps researchers map salty waters | 10/2/2012 | Staff
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The length and precision with which climate scientists can track the salinity, or saltiness, of the oceans is set to improve dramatically according to researchers working as part of ESA's Climate Change Initiative.

Sea-surface salinity plays an important role in thermohaline ocean circulation.

Research - Team - Jacqueline - Boutin - LOCEAN

The research team, led by Jacqueline Boutin of LOCEAN and Nicolas Reul of Ifremer, have generated the longest and most precise satellite sea-surface salinity global dataset to date.

Spanning nine years, the dataset is based on observations from the three satellite missions that measure sea-surface salinity from space: ESA's SMOS and the US SMAP and Aquarius missions.

Measurements - Missions - Radiometers - Precision - Salinity

"By combining and comparing measurements from the missions' various radiometers, the precision of sea-surface salinity maps is improved by roughly 30 percent thanks to the increased number of measurements and reduced inter-calibration error," comments Dr. Boutin.

The research project forms part of ESA's Climate Change Initiative, a programme focused on generating global, long-term satellite-derived data products for 22 essential climate variables.

Years - Observations - Space - Initiative - United

Based on 40 years of empirical observations from space, the initiative supports the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – the bodies that assess and synthesise scientific evidence into information for policy and decision-makers.

Sea-surface salinity is linked directly to density-driven ocean circulation patterns that transfer heat from the Tropics to the poles. Regional changes are also linked to periodic interannual climate events such as El Niño.


Salinity is implicated in...
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