Since August 2011, NASA’s satellite instruments have revealed how sea surface salinity changes over time with unprecedented detail. This new perspective of our ocean provided the scientific motivation for the Salinity Processes in the upper-Ocean Regional Study (SPURS), a coordinated field campaign to understand causes behind the patterns and variations of salinity at the ocean’s surface.
Studies indicate that, over the past 50 years, high-salinity regions (subtropics) have been getting saltier and the low-salinity regions (tropical rain belts) have been getting fresher. This is consistent with a warmer world where the atmosphere holds more water vapor. To learn more about the processes behind such salinity trends, SPURS-1 and -2 activities have been conducted in representative “salty” and “fresh” areas of our ocean, respectively (see table below).
SPURS has been designed to examine the salinity balance in the upper ocean through observation of salinity and ocean circulation at various time scales (annual, daily, minutes) and spatial scales (ocean basin, mesoscale, microstructure). The combined analysis of satellite and SPURS in situ data is intended to improve salinity-related computer models. Such information is critical in modeling the dynamics of many ocean phenomena. It also sheds light on the future of our water cycle, one of the most critical issues of climate change facing society.
|Focus||High evaporation||Heavy rain|
|Region||Subtropical N. Atlantic||E. Tropical Pacific|
|Mooring location||25°N / 38°W||10°N / 125°W|
|Cruise dates||Sep-Oct 2012
|Research vessels||Endeavor-1 and -2
Sarmiento de Gamboa
- Oceanography – Special Issue on SPURS
- Oceanography – Special Issue on SPURS-2
- SPURS Website (NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory)
- SPURS Data, Technical Documentation, and Meeting Materials (NASA Physical Oceanography Distributed Active Archive Center)
- NASA Earth Observatory Blogs - Notes from the Field: