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Education: Salinity Data & Tools
Analyzing sea surface salinity data patterns over time provides insight into variations in earth's water cycle. This is because some water cycle processes increase salinity while other processes decrease salinity:
Analyzing Monthly Environmental Data
Salinity patterns are governed by geographic differences in the "water budget." For example, like on continents, some areas of the ocean are rainy whereas others are arid and "desert-like." To learn more about the factors that influence salinity patterns, we invite you investigate – with the help of a "Data Analysis Sheet" – five pairs of data maps centered over the North Atlantic Ocean (listed below). Each map shows monthly conditions based on long-term averages. The challenge is to find the data set that most closely corresponds to sea surface salinity patterns.
For more in-depth analysis, monthly images for all data sets are also available in .pdf format:
Spatial Patterns, Annual Cycles, and Changes Over Time
conductivity: A measure of the ability of a material to conduct or transmit an electric charge.
evaporation: The physical process of converting a liquid to a gas. Commonly considered to occur at a temperature below the boiling point of the liquid.
practical salinity unit (psu): Used to describe the concentration of dissolved salts in water, the UNESCO Practical Salinity Scale of 1978 (PSS78) defines salinity in terms of a conductivity ratio, so it is dimensionless. Salinity was formerly expressed in terms of parts per thousand (ppt) or by weight (parts per thousand or 0/00). That is, a salinity of 35 ppt meant 35 pounds of salt per 1,000 pounds of seawater. Open ocean salinity is generally in the range from 32 to 37.
precipitation: Water released from the atmosphere in the form of rain, snow, hail, or sleet from the atmosphere onto Earth's surface.salinity: A measure of the quantity of dissolved solids in ocean water. In general, salinity reflects the total amount of dissolved solids in ocean water in parts per thousand by weight after all carbonate has been converted to oxide, the bromide and iodide to chloride, and all the organic matter oxidized. Salinity is now measured as practical salinity units (psu).
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