An updated estimate of salinity for the Atlantic Ocean Sector using temperature-salinity relationships

Marlos Goes, Jonathan Christophersen, Shenfu Dong, Gustavo Goni, Molly O. Baringer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Simultaneous temperature and salinity profile measurements are of extreme importance for research; operational oceanography; research and applications that compute content and transport of mass, heat, and freshwater in the ocean; and for determining water mass stratification and mixing rates. Historically, temperature profiles are much more abundant than simultaneous temperature and salinity profiles. Given the importance of concurrent temperature and salinity profiles, several methods have been developed to derive salinity solely based on temperature profile observations, such as expendable bathythermograph (XBT) temperature measurements, for which concurrent salinity observations are typically not available. These empirical methods used to date contain uncertainties as a result of temporal changes in salinity and seasonality in the mixed layer, and are typically regionally based. In this study, a new methodology is proposed to infer salinity in the Atlantic Ocean from the water surface to 2000-m depth, which addresses the seasonality in the upper ocean and makes inferences about longer-term changes in salinity. Our results show that when seasonality is accounted for, the variance of the residuals is reduced in the upper 150 m of the ocean and the dynamic height errors are smaller than 4 cm in the whole study domain. The sensitivity of the meridional heat and freshwater transport to different empirical methods of salinity estimation is studied using the high-density XBT transect across 34.5°S in the South Atlantic Ocean. Results show that accurate salinity estimates are more important on the boundaries, suggesting that temperature-salinity compensation may be also important in those regions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1771-1784
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2018


  • Error analysis
  • In situ oceanic observations
  • Regression analysis
  • Salinity
  • Seasonal cycle
  • Thermohaline circulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ocean Engineering
  • Atmospheric Science


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