Oceans Are Getting Saltier

By: Jill Cordes
By: Jill Cordes

You know to go easy on the salt, right? The same can be said for the world's oceans. New research suggests that the amount of salt in seawater is varying in direct response to man-made climate change. Over the last 50 years or so, some of our oceans have been getting saltier.

Consider the water cycle. Ocean water evaporates into the atmosphere. Clouds form, and eventually release freshwater as precipitation over land.

Higher temperatures as a result of global warming have increased the evaporation of seawater. This causes more salt left behind. This has two effects: One, saltier water could impact ocean circulation. Currents control how heat is carried within the oceans and regulate the world's climate. Two, the resulting saltier oceans impact the water cycle - affecting how much freshwater leaves and enters the oceans through evaporation and precipitation.

Tracking big shifts in salinity could warn scientists that that more severe droughts and floods are on their way, or even that global warming is speeding up.


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