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Keywords:

  • climate change;
  • ocean salinity;
  • climate variability

[1] An analysis of observed and modeled oceanic salinity changes shows that significant changes of salinity, which are predicted in the World's oceans as a result of human influence, are beginning to emerge. A significant increase in salinity has been observed in recent decades in the 20N–50N latitude band of the Atlantic ocean, although changes at sub-polar latitudes of the Atlantic, and in other ocean basins, are not found to be significant compared to modeled internal variability. An optimal detection analysis of spatial patterns of salinity trends detects a human influence on the observed salinity increases in the Atlantic ocean. These results indicate the growing potential for using observations to constrain important properties of the climate system's response to anthropogenic forcing.