Global ocean salinity changing due to anthropogenic climate change

Dec 18, 2012

Rising sea surface temperatures, climbing sea levels, and ocean acidification are the most commonly discussed consequences of anthropogenic climate change for the global oceans. They are not, however, the only potentially important shifts observed over recent decades. Drawing on observations from 1955 to 2004, Pierce et al. find that the oceans' salinity changed throughout the study period, that the changes were independent of known natural variability, and that the shifts were consistent with the expected effects of anthropogenic climate change.

The authors analyzed 50 years of salinity and temperature observations drawn from the National Oceanographic Data Center's records. The observations spanned the top 700 meters (2,300 feet) of the water column from 60 degrees North to 60 degrees South. Using 20 global general , they assessed whether the observed changes in ocean salinity and temperature could be explained by known natural cycles: the El Niño-, the , the effects of volcanic eruptions, and changes in solar activity. They find that the observed trends, which varied regionally, did not relate to any of these forcings. However, the observed trends are consistent with model estimates of the effects of human-caused climate change.

The slowly shifting global salinity field is known to be affected by changes in the hydrological cycle, including changes in evaporation and precipitation rates, ocean currents, river discharge, and other forces. As such, the authors suggest that the observed human-driven trends in the global salinity field demonstrate an ongoing, long-term shift in the global hydrological cycle that is likely to continue into the future.

Explore further: Genetics reveals where emperor penguins survived the last ice age

More information: The fingerprint of human-induced changes in the ocean's salinity and temperature fields, Geophysical Research Letters, doi:10.1029/2012GL053389, 2012

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

La Nina caused global sea level drop

Oct 29, 2012

The 2011 La Niña was so strong that it caused global mean sea level to drop by 5 millimeters (0.2 inches), a new study shows. Since the early 1990s, sea level has been rising by about 3 millimeters (0.1 inches) per year, ...

Atmospheric warming altering ocean salinity

Apr 27, 2012

The warming climate is altering the saltiness of the world's oceans, and the computer models scientists have been using to measure the effects are underestimating changes to the global water cycle, a group ...

Recommended for you

Antarctica's retreating ice may re-shape Earth

Feb 27, 2015

(AP)—From the ground in this extreme northern part of Antarctica, spectacularly white and blinding ice seems to extend forever. What can't be seen is the battle raging underfoot to re-shape Earth.

The sun has more impact on the climate in cool periods

Feb 27, 2015

The activity of the Sun is an important factor in the complex interaction that controls our climate. New research now shows that the impact of the Sun is not constant over time, but has greater significance ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

VendicarD
1 / 5 (2) Dec 18, 2012
This is all hogwash according to Clem's Conservative science blog.

clemgnozepsyence.org

Clem's theory is that trillions of underwater volcanoes are causing the earth's bountyful waters to become fizzy cause of the explosion of mermaids.

"It's causen dem mermaids is pissen in da water, is what's doin it, not global warmsen.... Every body done knowes dats pee is salty. When I tastesen mine, it's real salty like a wet cracker." said Clem.

Clem knowen sience is also the author of the best selling, self published movella's "Obama's done and pissed in my economy." and "To LiberalCommies... Why the party urin makes no sense."

Clem can be reached at his website or in summer at the corner of I50 and Leaker St. selling Watermelons and gun collectibles.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.