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.

5 fascinating facts about the woodstork

In a previous life I led birding tours for the South Florida Water Management District and was always in awe of this species.  Also known as “Wood Ibis”, “Ironhead”, or “Flinthead” the woodstork is a character all unto its own. Here are 5 fun facts about the goofy looking bird.

  1. The woodstork is the only stork native to North America.
  2. They are very colonial birds and prefer to nest in the company of other storks.
  3. Even though they might look like they would be awkward in the air they are particularly graceful in flight.
  4. The time it takes for the woodstork to grab a fish and take it in its beak once is it detected is one of the quickest in the animal kingdom.
  5. The woodstork has earned the nickname “Preacherbird” because they insist on the practice of standing around, as if contemplating life, after eating.

And, this is not necessarily a fact, but the population of the woodstock in North America is in trouble with continuous droughts in Florida. One part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Project (CERP), the Stormwater Treatment Areas, are very incredibly beneficial to reinvigorating the species.

I ask you, what is more adorable: a baby woodstork or a baby giraffe?

Image (c) top – gatorland.com, bottom – blog.catandturtle.net