Presented at the 2016 AGU Fall Meeting"Space-borne salinity data in the Indian Ocean are analyzed over the period 2000-2015 based on data from the European Space Agencyâs (ESA) ""Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity"" (SMOS) and the National Aeronautical Space Agencyâs (NASA) ""Aquarius/SAC-D"" missions. The seasonal variability is the dominant mode of sea surface salinity (SSS) variability in the Indian Ocean, accounting for more than 50% of salinity variance. Through a combined analysis of the satellite and ARGO data, dominant forcing terms for seasonal salinity changes are identified. It is found, that E-P controls seasonal salinity tendency in the western Indian Ocean, where the ITCZ has a strong seasonal cycle. In contrast, Ekman advection is the dominant term in the northern and eastern equatorial Indian Ocean. The influence of vertical processes on the salinity tendency is enhanced in coastal upwelling regions and south of the equator due to mid-ocean upwelling. Jointly those processes can explain most of the observed seasonal cycle with a correlation of ~0.85 and an RMS difference of 0.07/month. However, the detailed composition of driving terms depends on underlying data products. In general, our study confirms previous results from Lisan Yu (2011); however, in the eastern Indian Ocean contrasting results indicate the leading role of meridional Ekman advection to the seasonal salinity tendency instead of surface external forces due to precipitation. The inferred dominant salinity budget terms are confirmed by results obtained from a high resolution NCAR Core model run driven by NCEP forcing fields. From an EOF analysis of the salinity fields after substracting the annual and semiannual cycle we found that the first EOF mode explains more than 20% of salinity variance. The first principal component of SSS EOF is correlated with the Indian Ocean Dipole Mode Index. Nevertheless the EOF pattern shows a meridional tripole structure, while the IOD describes a zonal SST dipole (Saji et al, 1999)."