Decadal trends of the upper ocean salinity in the tropical Indo-Pacific since mid-1990s. Academic Article uri icon


  • A contrasting trend pattern of sea surface salinity (SSS) between the western tropical Pacific (WTP) and the southeastern tropical Indian Ocean (SETIO) is observed during 2004-2013, with significant salinity increase in the WTP and freshening in the SETIO. In this study, we show that increased precipitation around the Maritime Continent (MC), decreased precipitation in the western-central tropical Pacific, and ocean advection processes contribute to the salinity trends in the region. From a longer historical record, these salinity trends started in the mid-1990s, a few years before the Global Warming Hiatus from 1998 to present. The salinity trends are associated a strengthening trend of the Walker Circulation over the tropical Indo-Pacific, which have reversed the long-term salinity changes in the tropical Indo-Pacific as a consequence of global warming. Understanding decadal variations of SSS in the tropical Indo-Pacific will better inform on how the tropical hydrological cycle will be affected by the natural variability and a warming climate.

publication date

  • November 2, 2015