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17 Factors Affecting Ocean Salinity

by Fitriani

We all know that ocean water contains salt, that’s why it’s salty. But is knowing about Salinity of ocean water important? The answer is yes. Salinity affects the many marine plants and animals that can live in an ocean habitat. It can help scientist to study the working of the ocean and its overall health. You need to know these 17 Factors Affecting Ocean Salinity to understand the causes. By knowing the causes, you can understand the effects too.

1. Evaporation

Evaporation can only take away water volume, not salt content. Hot air around the ocean will cause most of the water to evaporate. However, the salt doesn’t evaporate with the water. This will make the salt concentration to remain high in the rest of the ocean water. A very sunny weather can make the evaporation process faster, leaving an even more salty ocean water.

2. Rivers

Rivers can dilute the salt concentration of an ocean. If there are numerous rivers flowing into a specific ocean water, then there is less chance for high salinity. These rivers contain a huge amount of fresh water. It is enough to cause the saltiness of the ocean to decline. More dilution will happen when the river carry a lot of fresh water that flows from the mountains.

3. Ocean Currents

Function of Ocean currents are responsible in both increasing and decreasing salinity. They are able to cause denser water to move downwards and allow the the less dense water to rise. That would mean less salinity on the water surface. But as time progresses, the salt concentration will add up and the process starts all over again.

4. Ice Formation

The formation of ice takes away most of the fresh water from the ocean. This causes all the salt to be left behind. The salt concentration increases as ice formation is more frequent. Fresh water is important in diluting the salt in the ocean water.

5. Wind

Wind is one of the factors that crucially determine how ocean currents will work. The wind over an ocean water will likely move the surface water to mix. This process of mixing may cause the salinity to decrease or increase. It depends on how much salt concentration is available in the ocean water. Read more effects of wind on ocean currents

6. Temperature

High temperature around the water will make the space between the water molecules to be more further apart. Thus, warm ocean water tends to become less dense. Water that is not dense means that it contains less concentration of salt. On the other hand, cold water often contains more salt.

7. Water Density

The density of the the ocean water also affects salinity. Dense water contains higher salinity as it has more salt in its components. That’s why the water tends to be heavier. People will also find it easier to swim in water with dense salt as it allows the body to glide through instead of pushing forward.

8. Isolated Region

The saltiest ocean in the world is the Dead Sea. Its salinity level is higher than the average ocean waters out there. Its location is isolated from any huge body of water. There is only one river that is flowing into it which is the Jordan river. This isolation and the lack of rainfall cause the Dead Sea to maintain its salinity.

9. Rain

Rain can decrease the level of salinity in the ocean. This mainly happens at the equatorial oceans. Heavy rainfalls often takes places around the oceans. The rain water are fresh water with small quantity of salt. Therefore, the ocean will experience less salinity as there is a huge amount of fresh water mixed with it.

10. Melting Ice

The South Ocean water has very low salinity because of the constant melting ice sheets and icebergs. The ice are actually fresh water and do not contain any salts. So when they melt, they dilute the salinity level with the fresh water that they contain.Read more characteristics of southern ocean

11. Proximity to Land

The part of the ocean water that is closest to lands may have higher salinity. Rivers from the inland will flow and end up in the ocean. Unfortunately, not all rivers carry clean water. Some are polluted with fertilisers or wastes from homes. The polluted water will cause the salinity to increase as the ocean water receives harmful components.

12. Global Warming

Global warming not only affects salinity, it also threatens the stability. It messes up the ability of the ocean to maintain the suitable level of salinity. Global warming brings many negative impacts to all the factors that affects salinity such as the temperature, the pattern of the weather and many more.

13. Tides

This next factor includes the rise and the fall of the ocean water which is also known as tides. Both high and low tides are important in determining what the salinity would be like for the ocean water. High tide will mean high salinity as ocean water increases. In contrast, low tide means less salinity as there is a reduction in the amount of the ocean water.Read more about main causes of ocean tides

14. Depth

The dept of the ocean plays a part too. The upper part of the ocean has the most salinity because that’s where evaporation mainly happens. In the deeper part of the ocean, it slowly decreases. The salinity increases again starting from 1.000 metres deep into the water.

15. Latitudes

When an ocean is located nearby the equator, the salinity is lower. The equatorial waters often have heavy rainfall. On the other hand, salinity is high close to the North and the South latitudes. In those areas, the evaporation rate is very high. You may want to know the use of salinity in ocean and see how important it is.

16. Snow

Snow can also cause an impact to salinity. In fact, snow decreases it. The reason for that is because snow is basically crystallised water. As snow falls around certain regions in the ocean, it helps to neutralise the saltiness of the water.

17. Air Pollution

The pollution in the air can affect the level of the ocean salinity. The ocean is able to absorb excess carbon dioxide from the air. More and more dangerous elements are released into the air through land transportations and industries. The ocean water takes in these elements which causes an imbalance. An unhealthy ocean will have higher salinity.

So, those are all the factors that determine the level of salinity in the ocean. Most of the factors are connected to one another. Thus, it is always important to keep the ocean healthy so the balance for salinity can always be maintained.

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