Presented at the 2016 AGU Fall Meeting"Lateral mixing by mesoscale eddies is widely recognized as a crucial mechanism for the global ocean circulation and the associated heat/salt/tracer transports. The Salinity in the Upper Ocean Processes Study (SPURS) confirmed the importance of eddy mixing for the surface salinity fields even in the center of the subtropical gyre of the North Atlantic. We focus on the global salinity maxima due to their role as indicators for global changes in the hydrological cycle as well as providing the source water masses for the shallow overturning circulation. We introduce a novel approach to estimate the contribution of eddy mixing to the global sea surface salinity maxima. Using a global 2D tracer experiments in a 1/10 degree MITgcm setup driven by observed surface velocities, we analyze the effect of eddy mixing using a water mass framework, thus focussing on the diffusive flux across surface isohalines. This enables us to diagnose temporal variability on seasonal to inter annual time scales, revealing regional differences in the mechanism causing temporal variability.Sensitivity experiments with various salinity backgrounds reveal robust inter annual variability caused by changes in the surface velocity fields potentially forced by large scale climate."