Global variability and changes in ocean total alkalinity from Aquarius satellite data

Rana A. Fine, Debra A. Willey, Frank J. Millero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


This work demonstrates how large-scale Aquarius satellite salinity data have provided an unprecedented opportunity when combined with total alkalinity (TA) equations as a function of salinity and temperature to examine global changes in the CO2 system. Alkalinity is a gauge on the ability of seawater to neutralize acids. TA correlates strongly with salinity. Spatial variability in alkalinity and salinity exceed temporal variability. Northern Hemisphere has more spatial variability in TA and salinity, while less variability in Southern Ocean TA is due to less salinity variability and upwelling of waters enriched in alkalinity. For the first time it is shown that TA in subtropical regions has increased as compared with climatological data; this is reflective of large-scale changes in the global water cycle. Thus, as temperature and salinity increase in subtropical regions, the resultant increase in TA and ocean acidification is reinforcing that from oceanic uptake of atmospheric CO2.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)261-267
Number of pages7
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 16 2017


  • acidification
  • alkalinity
  • carbon
  • satellite

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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