The failure of the CO2-monitoring spacecraft NASA launched earlier this year is not holding back the agency from launching further climate change monitoring satellites. In May 2010, NASA plans to launch the Aquarius spacecraft into orbit to monitor salinity levels in the world's oceans.
The saltiness of seas can affect the circulation of ocean currents (namely the redistribution of heat within the oceans, which affects climates) and the overall water cycle (which affects the availability of fresh water). It's believed that man-made climate change is raising the salinity of the seas, particularly in the North Atlantic Ocean, and therefore altering these natural processes.
The Aquarius satellite will measure sea saltiness around the globe for three years. It will fill in blanks where salinity has never been measured and monitor changes in salinity where it's known. The spacecraft will be able to accurately measure salinity levels to 0.2 psu (practical salinity units). The average salinity levels in the open ocean range between 32 and 37 psu.
Scientists hope the mission will provide information that helps us further understand sea salinity's role in the world's climate, especially in major climate events.
via Science Daily
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