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Ocean salinities reveal strong global water cycle intensification during 1950 to 2000


Durack, PJ and Wijffels, SE and Matear, RJ, Ocean salinities reveal strong global water cycle intensification during 1950 to 2000, Science, 336, (6080) pp. 455-458. ISSN 0036-8075 (2012) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2012 The American Association for the Advancement of Science

DOI: doi:10.1126/science.1212222


Fundamental thermodynamics and climate models suggest that dry regions will become drier and wet regions will become wetter in response to warming. Efforts to detect this long-term response in sparse surface observations of rainfall and evaporation remain ambiguous. We show that ocean salinity patterns express an identifiable fingerprint of an intensifying water cycle. Our 50-year observed global surface salinity changes, combined with changes from global climate models, present robust evidence of an intensified global water cycle at a rate of 8 ± 5% per degree of surface warming. This rate is double the response projected by current-generation climate models and suggests that a substantial (16 to 24%) intensification of the global water cycle will occur in a future 2° to 3° warmer world.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:climate modeling, ecological footprint, evaporation, global warming, hydrological cycle, rainfall, sea surface salinity, thermodynamics
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Oceanography
Research Field:Physical oceanography
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the earth sciences
UTAS Author:Durack, PJ (Mr Paul Durack)
ID Code:83681
Year Published:2012
Web of Science® Times Cited:616
Deposited By:IMAS Research and Education Centre
Deposited On:2013-03-20
Last Modified:2013-05-06

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