Global-scale patterns of observed sea surface salinity intensified since the 1870s

Stuart Cunningham, W. John Gould

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Sea surface salinity patterns have intensified between the mid-20th century and present day, with saline areas becoming saltier and fresher areas fresher. This change has been linked to a human-induced strengthening of the global hydrological cycle as global mean surface temperatures rose. Here we analyse salinity observations from the round-the-world voyages of HMS Challenger and SMS Gazelle in the 1870s, early in the industrial era, to reconstruct surface salinity changes since that decade. We find that the amplification of the salinity change pattern between the 1870s and the 1950s was at a rate that was 54 ± 10% lower than the post-1950s rate. The acceleration in salinity pattern amplification over almost 150 years implies that the hydrological cycle would have similarly accelerated over this period.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages7
JournalNature Communications Earth and Environment
Volume2
Issue number76
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2021

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