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Satellite Remote Sensing of Ocean Salinity

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Published on Mar 29, 2012

The satellite Aquarius measures sea surface salinity across the global ocean. Using a towed surfboard instrument, APL-UW scientists are collecting salinity data at depth to calibrate the satellite measurements that may be corrupted by freshwater lenses formed on the sea surface during heavy rainfall.

"Salinity is an indicator of ocean processes — a tracer of ocean water motion. The radiometric penetration depth of the microwave sensor on Aquarius used to measure salinity is a few centimeters, meaning these radiometers are measuring salinity at the very top of the ocean surface. As rain falls on the ocean it makes the ocean fresher and that fresher water is less dense. You get a lens of fresh water overlaying the salty water below. This fresh water on the sea surface could "spoof" the shallow satellite readings." -- Oceanographer Bill Asher

Learn more at apl.washington.edu, the Applied Physics Laboratory of the University of Washington.

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