Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Dry regions becoming drier: Ocean salinities show an intensified water cycle

Date:
April 18, 2010
Source:
CSIRO Australia
Summary:
There is new evidence that the world's water cycle has already intensified. The stronger water cycle means arid regions have become drier and high rainfall regions wetter as atmospheric temperature increases.

An Argo robotic profiling instrument being deployed from the research vessel, Southern Surveyor.
Credit: Alicia Navidad

The stronger water cycle means arid regions have become drier and high rainfall regions wetter as atmospheric temperature increases.

Related Articles


The study, co-authored by CSIRO scientists Paul Durack and Dr Susan Wijffels, shows the surface ocean beneath rainfall-dominated regions has freshened, whereas ocean regions dominated by evaporation are saltier. The paper also confirms that surface warming of the world's oceans over the past 50 years has penetrated into the oceans' interior changing deep-ocean salinity patterns.

"This is further confirmation from the global ocean that the Earth's water cycle has accelerated," says Mr Durack -- a PhD student at the joint CSIRO/University of Tasmania, Quantitative Marine Science program.

"These broad-scale patterns of change are qualitatively consistent with simulations reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

"While such changes in salinity would be expected at the ocean surface (where about 80 per cent of surface water exchange occurs), sub-surface measurements indicate much broader, warming-driven changes are extending into the deep ocean," Mr Durack said.

The study finds a clear link between salinity changes at the surface driven by ocean warming and changes in the ocean subsurface which follow the trajectories along which surface water travels into the ocean interior.

The ocean's average surface temperature has risen around 0.4ēC since 1950. As the near surface atmosphere warms it can evaporate more water from the surface ocean and move it to new regions to release it as rain and snow. Salinity patterns reflect the contrasts between ocean regions where the oceans lose water to the atmosphere and the others where it is re-deposited on the surface as salt-free rainwater.

"Observations of rainfall and evaporation over the oceans in the 20th century are very scarce. These new estimates of ocean salinity changes provide a rigorous benchmark to better validate global climate models and start to narrow the wide uncertainties associated with water cycle changes and oceanic processes both in the past and the future -- we can use ocean salinity changes as a rain-gauge," Mr Durack said.

Based on historical records and data provided by the Argo Program's world-wide network of ocean profilers -- robotic submersible buoys which record and report ocean salinity levels and temperatures to depths of two kilometres -- the research was conducted by CSIRO's Wealth from Oceans Flagship and partially funded by the Australian Climate Change Science Program. Australia's Integrated Marine Observing System is a significant contributor to the global Argo Program.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by CSIRO Australia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Paul J. Durack and Susan E. Wijffels et al. Fifty-year trends in global ocean salinities and their relationship to broad-scale warming. Journal of Climate, (in press) DOI: 10.1175/2010JCLI3377.1

Cite This Page:

CSIRO Australia. "Dry regions becoming drier: Ocean salinities show an intensified water cycle." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 April 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100416094050.htm>.
CSIRO Australia. (2010, April 18). Dry regions becoming drier: Ocean salinities show an intensified water cycle. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100416094050.htm
CSIRO Australia. "Dry regions becoming drier: Ocean salinities show an intensified water cycle." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100416094050.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Lava Inches Closer to Highway

Raw: Lava Inches Closer to Highway

AP (Dec. 21, 2014) — Officials have opened a new road on Hawaii's Big Island for drivers to take care of their daily needs if encroaching lava from Kilauea Volcano crosses a highway and cuts them off from the rest of the island. (Dec. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scuba Diving Santa Off Florida Keys

Raw: Scuba Diving Santa Off Florida Keys

AP (Dec. 20, 2014) — A scuba diving Santa Claus explored the waters of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Dive shop owner Spencer Slate makes the dive each year to help raise money for charity. (Dec. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: Better Ways to Create Jobs Than Keystone Pipeline

Obama: Better Ways to Create Jobs Than Keystone Pipeline

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) — US President Barack Obama says that construction of the Keystone pipeline would have 'very little impact' on US gas prices and believes there are 'more direct ways' to create construction jobs. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Lava on Track to Hit Hawaii Market

Raw: Lava on Track to Hit Hawaii Market

AP (Dec. 19, 2014) — Lava from an active volcano on Hawaii's Big Island slowed slightly but stayed on track to hit a shopping center in the small town of Pahoa. (Dec. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins