There is an increased awareness among researchers that surface salinity variability plays an
important role in ocean and climate dynamics. This has prompted a general call to increase salinity
observations in evolving climate research programs. These proposals are aimed primarily at
in situ measurements, which are spatially limited. Due to its global coverage, however,
remote sensing may prove to be an invaluable technique in the large scale monitoring of surface salinity.
For two decades, it has been known that sea surface salinity variations can be detected with remote
sensing. The signals are small, but experiments with airborne instruments both in the 1970s and in the
recent few years have repeatedly demonstrated that scientifically useful measurements can be obtained.
With present technology, it may be possible to map the global surface salinity field from satellite on
climatological scales, that is ~monthly and ~1-2 degree resolution, with a precision approaching 0.1 psu.
Measurements would have to be made with passive microwave radiometryat 1-3 GHz (L & S bands).
There may be additional scientific value for sea ice observations in these microwave bands.
These channels are now being considered for planned future satellite missions.
Such observations possibly represent a major advance in global ocean remote sensing capability for
climate research. Accordingly, the NASA Physical Oceanography program desires a comprehensive evaluation
of the scientific importance and technical feasibility of such a mission.
To this end, a Salinity Sea Ice Working Group (SSIWG) has been formed ad hoc.
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Mission of the SSIWG