Ocean Salinities Reveal Strong Global Water Cycle Intensification During 1950 to 2000

Edited: 2012-08-07
TitleOcean Salinities Reveal Strong Global Water Cycle Intensification During 1950 to 2000
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsDurack, P., S. Wijffels, and R. Matear
JournalScience
Volume336
Issue6080
Pagination455 - 458
Date Published04/2012
ISSN1095-9203
Keywordsclimate, steric
AbstractFundamental 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.
DOI10.1126/science.1212222
Short TitleScience