A Decade of Sea Surface Salinity

  • Released Friday, August 26th, 2022
  • Updated Monday, September 18th, 2023 at 12:22AM
  • ID: 5017

This data visualization shows sea surface salinity (i.e., ocean salt concentration) over a ten year period (2011 to 2021). Warm colors (orange to yellow) are areas of high salinity/hot tropics. Cooler colors (blue to violet) are fresher waters, many of which can be seen coming from rainy/river/wetter tropics.

The heat of the sun forces evaporation at the ocean's surface, which puts water vapor into the atmosphere but leaves minerals and salts behind, keeping the ocean salty. The salinity of the ocean also varies from place to place, because evaporation varies based on the sea surface temperature and wind, rivers and rain storms inject fresh water into the ocean, and melting or freezing sea ice affects the salinity of polar waters.


Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio

Datasets used in this visualization

Comiso's Daily Sea Ice Concentration
Data Compilation NASA/GSFC 9/1/2011 - 9/1/2021
Data Compilation OISSS_L4_multimission_7day_v1 (A.K.A. Multi-Mission Optimally Interpolated Sea Surface Salinity Global Dataset V1) (Collected with the SMAP/SMAP L-BAND RADIOMETER, SAC-D/AQUARIUS_SCATTEROMETER, SMOS/SMAP L-BAND RADIOMETER sensor)
Data Compilation PODAAC
Data Compilation Natural Earth River Data

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