. Earth Science News .

Aquarius Yields NASA's First Global Map of Ocean Salinity
by Staff Writers
Pasadena CA (JPL) Sep 23, 2011

The first global map of the salinity, or saltiness, of Earth's ocean surface produced by NASA's new Aquarius instrument reveals a rich tapestry of global salinity patterns, demonstrating Aquarius' ability to resolve large-scale salinity distribution features clearly and with sharp contrast. NASA/GSFC/JPL-Caltech.

NASA's new Aquarius instrument has produced its first global map of the salinity of the ocean surface, providing an early glimpse of the mission's anticipated discoveries.

Aquarius, which is aboard the Aquarius/SAC-D (Satelite de Aplicaciones Cientificas) observatory, is making NASA's first space observations of ocean surface salinity variations - a key component of Earth's climate. Salinity changes are linked to the cycling of freshwater around the planet and influence ocean circulation.

"Aquarius' salinity data are showing much higher quality than we expected to see this early in the mission," said Aquarius Principal Investigator Gary Lagerloef of Earth and Space Research in Seattle. "Aquarius soon will allow scientists to explore the connections between global rainfall, ocean currents and climate variations."

The new map, which shows a tapestry of salinity patterns, demonstrates Aquarius' ability to detect large-scale salinity distribution features clearly and with sharp contrast.

The map is a composite of the data since Aquarius became operational on Aug. 25. The mission was launched June 10 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Aquarius/SAC-D is a collaboration between NASA and Argentina's space agency, Comision Nacional de Actividades Espaciales (CONAE).

"Aquarius/SAC-D already is advancing our understanding of ocean surface salinity and Earth's water cycle," said Michael Freilich, director of NASA's Earth Science Division at agency headquarters in Washington.

"Aquarius is making continuous, consistent, global measurements of ocean salinity, including measurements from places we have never sampled before."

To produce the map, Aquarius scientists compared the early data with ocean surface salinity reference data. Although the early data contain some uncertainties, and months of additional calibration and validation work remain, scientists are impressed by the data's quality.

"Aquarius has exposed a pattern of ocean surface salinity that is rich in variability across a wide range of scales," said Aquarius science team member Arnold Gordon, professor of oceanography at Columbia University in Palisades, N.Y., and at the university's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

"This is a great moment in the history of oceanography. The first image raises many questions that oceanographers will be challenged to explain."

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.

Other important regional features are evident, including a sharp contrast between the arid, high-salinity Arabian Sea west of the Indian subcontinent, and the low-salinity Bay of Bengal to the east, which is dominated by the Ganges River and south Asia monsoon rains.

The data also show important smaller details, such as a larger-than-expected extent of low-salinity water associated with outflow from the Amazon River.

Aquarius was built by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., for NASA's Earth Systems Science Pathfinder Program.

JPL is managing Aquarius through its commissioning phase and will archive mission data. Goddard will manage Aquarius mission operations and process science data. CONAE provided the SAC-D spacecraft and the mission operations center.

The new map is available here

Related Links
Aquarius/SAC-D at NASA
Aquarius/SAC-D at CONAE
Water News - Science, Technology and Politics


Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
Buy Advertising Editorial Enquiries

. Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Yao Ming urges Chinese to give up shark fin soup
Shanghai (AFP) Sept 22, 2011
Basketball star Yao Ming and British entrepreneur Richard Branson on Thursday launched a campaign urging Chinese to stop eating shark fin soup to help save the predators. Shark fins are used in a thick soup that is viewed as a delicacy by Chinese people and served at luxury restaurants in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. The method of shark-finning - slicing off the fins of live animals and ... read more

Deaths From Extreme Weather Events Have Fallen 98 Percent Since the 1920s

Insurance market Lloyd's dives into red on catastrophes

Traces of Japan nuclear fallout in California rainwater

Haiti seeks greater local role in rebuilding

NASA says satellite will hit Earth Sept 23 US time

Ariane 5 launches SES-2 satellite with chirp hosted payload on board

PlusComms to Create a Global Space Network

NASA to Demonstrate Communications Via Laser Beam

Myanmar stands firm on Myitsone dam

El Nino and the Tropical Eastern Pacific Annual Cycle Run to the Same Beat

Aquarius Yields NASA's First Global Map of Ocean Salinity

Researchers chance viewing of river cutoff forming provides rare insight

Model provides successful seasonal forecast for the fate of Arctic sea ice

Putin touts Arctic Northeast passage

Understanding methane's seabed escape

Arctic sea ice reaches minimum 2011 extent

If insurance companies pay out too often farmers will be threatened with ruin

Paraguay outbreak threatens farms, jobs

Philippines eats, sells biodiversity riches

Ugandans displaced by UK company landgrab: Oxfam

Tropical Storm Ophelia forms, heads toward Caribbean

Hurricane Hilary strengthens off Mexico's Pacific

Two million sick from Pakistan floods

Himalayan villagers tell of quake chaos, 110 dead

Sierra Leone army chief urges political impartiality

China to build $439-million housing complex in Mozambique

Niger seeks help over Libya arms fallout

No US-China arms sales race in Africa: US general

Researchers use genome sequences to peer into early human history

Continents influenced human migration, spread of technology

CT study of early humans reveals evolutionary relationships

Serotonin levels affect the brain's response to anger

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily Express :: SpaceWar Express :: TerraDaily Express :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2011 - Space Media Network. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement