Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 21 Issue 01

View Issue TOC
Volume 21, No. 1
Pages 20 - 29


Sea Surface Salinity Trends over Fifty Years Within the Subtropical North Atlantic

By Arnold L. Gordon  and Claudia F. Giulivi  
Jump to
Citation Copyright & Usage
First Paragraph

Seawater is a dilute salt solution. The salt or salinity is reduced or elevated as freshwater is added or removed, respectively, through precipitation, evaporation, and sea-ice melting and freezing, as well as river runoff from land. If the freshwater inventory within the ocean water column remains in quasi-steady state, imbalances of sea-air flux of freshwater at specific sites are compensated with freshwater convergence or divergence by ocean currents and mixing, including eddies and wind-induced Ekman transport. Climate fluctuations alter the hydrological cycle. On land, these modifications are manifested as droughts in one region and floods in another. At sea, they alter the ocean’s freshwater inventory and salinity. Considering that the ocean is about 71% of Earth’s surface and that the hydrological cycle, including its relationship to latent heat transport, is so central to the climate system, the marine component of the hydrological cycle is surprisingly poorly observed. Sea-surface salinity (SSS) serves as a proxy for the marine hydrological cycle.


Gordon, A.L., and C.F. Giulivi. 2008. Sea surface salinity trends over fifty years within the subtropical North Atlantic. Oceanography 21(1):20–29, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2008.64.

Copyright & Usage

This is an open access article made available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution, and reproduction in any medium or format as long as users cite the materials appropriately, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate the changes that were made to the original content. Images, animations, videos, or other third-party material used in articles are included in the Creative Commons license unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If the material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission directly from the license holder to reproduce the material.