A team of scientists recently set out on an expedition to study salinity changes in surface layers of the Atlantic Ocean, according to a NASA press release.
The trip is one leg of a multi-year mission known as the Salinity Processes in the Upper Ocean Regional Study. The goal is to deploy monitoring equipment and collect data to calibrate NASA’s Aquarius Satellite, which measures ocean salinity from space.
Oceanographers believe shifts in ocean salinity are a good record of changes in precipitation patterns. Areas that see frequent evaporation are saltier and areas that see more precipitation become fresher.
Researchers plan to collect data in the saltiest spot on the Atlantic, located between the Bahamas and the west coast of North Africa.
Sensing technology to be deployed includes autonomous gliders, sensor equipped buoys and unmanned underwater vehicles. The scientists will leave some of the equipment in the water for a year or longer to continually collect data on salinity.
Researchers are traveling aboard the research vessel Knorr utilized by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration and National Science Foundation also support the research.