NASA Made Map Which Shows Saltiness of Earth’s Oceans

NASA’s new Aquarius instrument has produced its first global map of the salinity of the ocean surface. Aquarius, which is aboard the Aquarius/SAC-D (Satélite de Aplicaciones Científicas) observatory, is making NASA’s first space observations of ocean surface salinity variations a key component of Earth’s climate. According to Aquarius Principal Investigator Gary Lagerloef of Earth & Space Research in Seattle Aquarius salinity data are showing much higher quality than they expected to see this early in the mission. Aquarius soon will allow scientists to explore the connections between global rainfall, ocean currents and climate variations. The map is a composite of the data since Aquarius became operational on August 25.

The mission was launched June 10 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The map shows several well-known ocean salinity features such as higher salinity in the subtropics, higher average salinity in the Atlantic Ocean compared to the Pacific and Indian oceans, and lower salinity in rainy belts near the equator, in the northernmost Pacific Ocean and elsewhere. These features are related to large-scale patterns of rainfall and evaporation over the ocean, river outflow and ocean circulation. Aquarius will monitor how these features change and study their link to climate and weather variations.