In Paris late last month the General Assembly of UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) accepted the case for the introduction of a new international thermodynamic description of seawater, cast in terms of a new salinity variable called Absolute Salinity.
Hobart-based CSIRO Wealth from Oceans Flagship scientist, Dr Trevor McDougall, made the case during his presentation of the Bruun Memorial Lecture to the Paris meeting.
"Scientists will now have an accurate measure of the heat content of seawater for inclusion in ocean models and climate projections," Dr McDougall says.
"Variations in salinity and heat influence ocean currents and measuring those variations are central to quantifying the ocean's role in climate change. The new values for salinity, density and heat content should be in widespread use within 18 months."
Marine scientists have been searching for the 'magic formula' for measuring salinity – which varies from ocean to ocean and between tropical, temperate and polar regions – for more than 150 years.
"These variations in salinity and temperature are responsible for driving deep ocean currents and the major vertical overturning circulations of the world's oceans, which transfer ocean heat towards the Arctic and Antarctic regions," Dr McDougall says.
Dr McDougall, CSIRO Wealth from Ocenas FlagshipUnchanged since the last assessment 30 years ago, the case to review ocean thermodynamic measurements began in 2005 when the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR) established a working group, chaired by Dr McDougall. Supporting him were Dr Rainer Feistel from the Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung in Warnemünde (Germany), Dr Frank Millero, from the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science at the University of Miami in Florida, Dr Dan Wright of the Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Canada and Dr David Jackett of CSIRO.
Salinity, comprising the salts washed from rocks, is measured using the conductivity of seawater – a technique which assumes that the composition of salt in seawater is the same in all the world's oceans.
"The new approach, involving Absolute Salinity, takes into account the changes in the composition of seasalt between different ocean basins which, while small, are a factor of about 10 larger than the accuracy with which scientists can measure salinity at sea," Dr McDougall says.
Until the new description of seawater is widely adopted, ocean models will continue to assume that the heat content of seawater is proportional to a particular temperature variable called "potential temperature".
"The new description allows scientists to calculate the errors involved by using this approximation while also presenting a much more accurate measure of the heat content of seawater, namely Conservative Temperature," Dr McDougall says.
"The difference is mostly less than 1ºC at the sea surface, but it is important to correct for these biases in ocean models."National Research Flagships
Craig Macaulay | EurekAlert!
Designer cells: artificial enzyme can activate a gene switch
22.05.2018 | Universität Basel
Flow of cerebrospinal fluid regulates neural stem cell division
22.05.2018 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...
A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.
The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
22.05.2018 | Life Sciences
22.05.2018 | Earth Sciences
22.05.2018 | Trade Fair News