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The first decade of Sea Surface Salinity observations from space – a review

Global satellite Sea Surface Salinity observations provide an essential means to better reveal the influence of salinity on ocean circulation, bio-geochemistry, its relations to climate variability, air-sea interactions, and the global water cycle. 

A new paper by lead author and CCI Science Lead, Nicolas Reul presents the sensor characteristics and algorithms associated with the ESA’s SMOS mission, in operation since 2009, and NASA’s Aquarius and SMAP missions which together provide the first decadal-scale Sea Surface Salinity dataset from space, now spanning 2010 to 2019.

The paper also describes the major scientific achievements and the quality assessment of latest satellite products for this fundamentally important Essential Climate Variable (ECV).

ESA’s Climate Change Initiative Sea Surface Salinity project continues to generate improved, calibrated global time series from all available satellite L-band radiometer measurements such as SMOS, Aquarius and SMAP. First versions of weekly and monthly sea surface salinity data products spanning 2010-2019 are freely available for evaluation purposes from the Climate Change Initiative’s data portal. The project is also looking into retrieving salinity from earlier satellite radiometers operating in the C-band of the electromagnetic spectrum, that would allow extending the time series back in time to the early 2000s.


N. Reul et al. (2020) Sea surface salinity estimates from spaceborne L-band radiometers: An overview of the first decade of observation (2010–2019). Remote Sensing of Environment