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

Author
Keywords
Abstract
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 \textpm 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\textdegree to 3\textdegree warmer world.
Year of Publication
2012
Journal
Science
Volume
336
Number of Pages
455-458
Date Published
04/2012
ISSN Number
1095-9203
DOI
10.1126/science.1212222