NASA recently released a colourised photo representing the ocean salinity differences around the world.
I thought it was pretty cool to see how much of an influence the Amazon River, St. Lawrence River and the ice caps at the north pole. Makes sense when you think about it but I clearly hadn’t thought about it before.
This information comes from data captured by NASA’s Aquarius instrument.
Jet Propulsion Laboratory website explains what’s going on and why we should care about this:
Launched June 10, 2011, aboard the Argentine spacecraft Aquarius/Satelite de Aplicaciones Cientificas (SAC)-D, Aquarius is NASA's first satellite instrument specifically built to study the salt content of ocean surface waters. Salinity variations, one of the main drivers of ocean circulation, are closely connected with the cycling of freshwater around the planet and provide scientists with valuable information on how the changing global climate is altering global rainfall patterns.
The salinity sensor detects the microwave emissivity of the top approximately 1 inch (1 to 2 centimeters) of ocean water - a physical property that varies depending on temperature and saltiness. The instrument collects data in 240-mile-wide (386 kilometers) swaths in an orbit designed to obtain a complete survey of global salinity of ice-free oceans every seven days.
They also released a very cool visualization showing the ocean surface salinity changes from December 2011 to December, 2012.
Photo credit: NASA