Bryan F.O.,Climate and Global Dynamics LaboratoryNational Center for Atmospheric ResearchBoulder United States |
Large W.G.,Climate and Global Dynamics LaboratoryNational Center for Atmospheric ResearchBoulder United States |
Bailey D.A.,Climate and Global Dynamics LaboratoryNational Center for Atmospheric ResearchBoulder United States
Journal of Geophysical Research C: Oceans | Year: 2015
Diurnal variations in sea surface salinity (SSS) have been observed at a few selected locations with adequate in situ instrumentation. Such variations result primarily from imbalances between surface freshwater fluxes and vertical mixing of deeper water to the surface. New observations becoming available from satellite salinity remote sensing missions could help to constrain estimates of diurnal variations in air-sea exchange of freshwater, and provide insight into the processes governing diurnal variability of mixing processes in the upper ocean. Additionally, a better understanding of variation in near surface salinity is required to compare satellite measured SSS with in situ measurements at a few meters depth. The diurnal SSS variations should be reflected as differences between ascending and descending pass retrievals from the Aquarius and SMOS satellites; however, the diurnal signal can be masked by inadequacies of the geophysical corrections used in processing the satellite measurements. In this study, we quantify the expected range of diurnal SSS variations using a model developed for predicting diurnal sea surface temperature variations. We present estimates for the mean and variance of the global diurnal SSS cycle, contrasting it with the diurnal cycle of sea surface temperature. We find the SSS diurnal cycle can be significant throughout the tropics, with mean amplitudes of up to 0.1 psu in areas with heavy precipitation. Predicted maximum diurnal ranges approach 2 psu in select regions. Surface freshening in Aquarius salinity retrievals is shown to be larger for ascending than descending passes, consistent with the expectations from the model simulation. Key Points:: The diurnal cycle of salinity is driven by freshwater flux and mixing Precipitation drives a larger diurnal salinity cycle than evaporation Diurnal variations in salinity are very episodic, similar to precipitation © 2015. American Geophysical Union.