Science Meetings

Is the Aquarius Sea Surface Salinity Variability Representative?
Grodsky, S., and Carton, J. (16-Dec-16)

The leading mode of the Aquarius monthly anomalous sea surface salinity (SSS) is evaluated within the 50S-50N belt, where SSS retrieval accuracy is higher. This mode accounts for about 18% of the variance and resembles a pattern of the ENSO-induced anomalous rainfall. The leading mode of SSS variability deducted from a longer JAMSTEC analysis also accounts for about 17% of the variance and has very similar spatial pattern and almost a perfect correspondence of its temporal principal component to the SOI index. In that sense, the Aquarius SSS variability at low and middle latitudes is representative of SSS variability that may be obtained from longer records. This is explained by the fact that during the Aquarius period (2011-2015), the SOI index changed significantly from La Nina toward El Nino state, thus spanning a significant range of its characteristic variations. Multivariate EOF analysis of anomalous SSS and SST suggests that ENSO-induced shift in the tropical Pacific rainfall produces negatively correlated variability of temperature and salinity, which are expected if the anomalous surface flux (stronger rainfall coincident with less downward radiation) drives the system. But, anomalous SSS and SST are positively correlated in some areas including the northwestern Atlantic shelf (north of the Gulfstream) and the Pacific sector adjusting to the California peninsula. This positive correlation is indicative of an advection driven regime that is analyzed separately.