Warming and inhibition of salinization at the ocean's surface by Cyanobacteria

Wurl, Oliver; Bird, K.; Cunliffe, Michael; Landing, William M.; Miller, Una Kim; Mustaffa, Nur Ili Hamizah; Ribas-Ribas, Mariana; Witte, Carson Riggs; Zappa, Christopher J.

This paper describes high-resolution in situ observations of temperature and, for the first time, of salinity in the uppermost skin layer of the ocean, including the influence of large surface blooms of cyanobacteria on those skin properties. In the presence of the blooms, large anomalies of skin temperature and salinity of 0.95°C and −0.49 practical salinity unit were found, but a substantially cooler (−0.22°C) and saltier skin layer (0.19 practical salinity unit) was found in the absence of surface blooms. The results suggest that biologically controlled warming and inhibition of salinization of the ocean's surface occur. Less saline skin layers form during precipitation, but our observations also show that surface blooms of Trichodesmium sp. inhibit evaporation decreasing the salinity at the ocean's surface. This study has important implications in the assessment of precipitation over the ocean using remotely sensed salinity, but also for a better understanding of heat exchange and the hydrologic cycle on a regional scale.


Also Published In

Geophysical Research Letters

More About This Work

Academic Units
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Ocean and Climate Physics
Published Here
January 14, 2022