Ocean currents made visible by density measurement

The salinity and, consequently, the density of seawater play a crucial role in ocean currents. Instead of calculating the density from practical salinity, direct density measurement of seawater is gaining recognition among marine scientists.

Density detects seawater anomalies

The density of seawater is usually not measured but computed from the equation of state as a function of salinity (determined by measuring the conductivity), temperature and pressure. These calculated density values correspond very well to the density of waters in the open sea.

However, as reported by IOW (Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research; report 1999), in certain areas, such as the Baltic Sea or the deep water of the Bering Sea, the composition of the seawater and its salinity can deviate considerably from the values in the open sea, as the conductivity measurement detects only charge carriers, but not organic substances.

Consequently, the density of seawater as calculated from the salinity, is too low in comparison to the true density. Direct density measurement is the only way to measure the real density of seawater. In combination with conductivity measurement it is a valuable method for detecting and studying seawater anomalies.

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