12 Jun '11, 1pm

The age of Aquarius

The age of Aquarius

The international Aquarius/SAC-D satellite was successfully launched yesterday (thankfully!). Media coverage was good – except for the almost absolute avoidance of the term ‘salinity’ to describe the concentration of salts in the surface ocean that Aquarius will retrieve – oh well. But what is Aquarius going to see, and why is it important? The most important factor governing the dynamics of any fluid is the equation of state that relates its composition to its density. That ultimately determines the pressure gradients and hence the velocity and circulation. In the atmosphere, the important constituents are temperature and water vapour, while in the ocean it is temperature and salinity. Making seawater warmer or making it fresher (by adding rain or river water) both decrease the density and make the water more buoyant. Similarly, cooling and evaporation both make seawater ...

Full article: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2011/06/the...

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