Research and Application News
Satellites accurately capture ocean salinity in the Arctic
16 November 2017
Monitoring ocean salinity is essential for understanding its impact on ocean circulation, Earth's water cycle, marine ecology, and climate change. Ocean salinity in the Arctic is of particular interest because it changes significantly with seasonal ice cover and is expected to decrease as the Greenland ice sheet melts and releases massive amounts of freshwater.
Despite its importance, ocean salinity in the Arctic has been poorly monitored because of the harsh environment and obstacles posed by sea ice, which impede field measurements. Moreover, surface salinity is most difficult to measure at high latitudes because of colder temperatures. However, a new study by Garcia-Eidell et al. shows that satellite-based methods produce reasonably accurate measurements of Arctic sea surface salinity from season to season and year to year.
Image credit: NASA's Earth Observatory - A glacier in eastern Greenland flows into the sea. As the Greenland ice sheet melts and releases freshwater into the ocean, it will decrease ocean salinity in the Arctic region. A new study shows how satellites could help scientists monitor ocean salinity in the Arctic as climate change progresses.