How much salt is in the ocean? Revisited

In late 2008, I wrote a very simple post explaining ‘salinity’ and the overall general amount of salt in the ocean. Now, with new data being collected by NASA (in a joint mission with Argentina) using the Aquarius instrument aboard a satellite, Satélite de Aplicaciones Científicas, we are able to more completely understand “How salty is the sea?” The satellite measures  the “brightness temperature” of the top centimeter layer of ocean waters.

June 10, 2012 marked was the one year anniversary this satellite has been in orbit. In the past year many finding have been confirmed using three sensors to collect approximately 3.6 million measurements (300,000 measurements per month)! For instance, 1) the Atlantic ocean is saltier than the Pacific ocean, 2) long rivers are responsible for massive plumes of freshwater that extend far into the sea (e.g., Mississippi River carry lots of freshwater into the Gulf of Mexico, the Kissimmee River, Lake Okeechobee, and the Everglades flowing into the Florida Keys region), and 3) rainfall along the equator’s rainforest create a significantly more diluted ocean than we once previously had envisioned.

Trivia question: Can anyone tell me the what you call the body of water where freshwater from rivers mix with the salty ocean water?

Check out the maps of the Saltiness of the Earth’s Ocean from Our Amazing Planet.


  1. I’m guessing estuary.

Speak Your Mind