Yes; over the past 50 years, salinity in subtropical Atlantic waters has increased by 1%. While this number does not seem large, normal variation should be much closer to zero. Scientists attribute this to global warming, saying that higher temperatures affect worldwide precipitation patterns and evaporation rates. The loss of freshwater to evaporation makes the oceans more salty.
The ocean’s salinity, or how salty it is, fluctuates depending on rainwater, evaporation, influx of river and stream water, and ice formation. The salinity can also vary depending on where in the ocean you’re looking at—deep water at the bottom of the ocean will have a different salinity than coastal water. On average, ocean salinity is usually 35 ppt, although over millions of years this number may increase, as the ocean reached the salinity level it has today through millions of years of rain, river water, and streams washing sodium chloride out of rocks and carrying it to the sea. So as this process continues, the ocean’s salinity will slowly increase. This whole process may be changed, however, as global warming increases, speeding evaporation rates and increasing ice melt.
The ocean continually goes through changes in the level of salinity; the evaporation of ocean water and the formation of sea ice increase the salinity of the ocean, while fresh water from rivers, precipitation of rain or snow, and the melting of ice decrease salinity. However, tropically waters have become increasingly saltier, while waters around the poles have become fresher. Scientists have attributed this to climate change, which ‘may be altering the fundamental planetary system that regulates evaporation and precipitation and cycles fresh water around the globe.’ As the global water cycle changes, global precipitation patterns that determine the distribution, severity, and frequency of storms, floods, and droughts will be affected.
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