Meetings: Documents

Recent Progress in Understanding the Global Water Cycle
[22-May-17] Durack, P.
Presented at the Global Ocean Salinity and the Water Cycle Workshop
Thanks largely to a boom in measurements and data, the research focus of the oceanic arm of the global water cycle has received considerable attention over the last decade. Due to this renewed interest, ocean salinity is now considered an Essential Climate Variable (ECV), its measurement is an integral part in the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS), and it provides an important metric of ongoing climate variability and change. Recent work has highlighted the response of salinity to enhanced greenhouse gas concentrations over multidecadal timescales. In this context, salinity changes show a clear anthropogenic fingerprint of change and provide a suitable metric to compare observed and simulated change estimates. On shorter decadal timescales the fingerprint is less evident, and the impact of the sparse historical observing system, along with unforced modes of natural climate variability obscure a clear forced response. With the high-frequency measurements provided by salinity measuring satellites, and the sea-going SPURS campaigns, the direct relationship between salinity and rainfall has been further examined. These new assessments have uncovered relationships that occur over very short time and space scales, and which are unresolved by current modeling systems. The presentation will provide an overview of current progress in understanding, and outline some ongoing work aimed at addressing the temporal disconnect between multidecadal and decadal analyses. While a long-term pattern of change appears robust both in available observational assessments and model simulations, there is further work required to better link these results with those captured over shorter timescales and smaller spatial scales.

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