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Data in Action: Using Coastal Surface Salinity to Monitor Global Water Cycle Changes

Posted: Thu Apr 25, 2024 3:16 pm America/New_York
by PODAAC - colleen
The global water cycle corresponds to the movement of water between the land, ocean, atmosphere and cryosphere. As water is fundamental to all life, it is of utmost importance to monitor the changes in the global water cycle, particularly the types of changes expected in a warming climate.

Previous works studied the water cycle by measuring exchanges of water between land and ocean via precipitation, evaporation and river discharge or by looking at the long-term changes in open ocean surface salinity that responds to changes in evaporation minus precipitation. The coastal ocean is extremely rich in providing signals of change for the global water cycle but this region of the world has been understudied though more than 40% of the world population live within 100km from the coast.

Rivers provide 10% of the total freshwater input to the ocean and are critical to the coastal ocean including substantial impacts on marine ecology. An obstacle to monitoring the coastal oceans is that observations of river discharge have traditionally relied upon an aging and sparse in situ observing network, with very few river gauges. As the climate warms, the global water cycle is expected to change, with complex impacts. Runoff from land is projected to increase by ….

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