Global Ocean Salinity Change, 1950-2008 (Durack-Wijffels)

Using data from the Indian Ocean Hydrobase (IOHB) (Kobayashi et al., 2006), Hydrobase2 (Curry, 2002), and Southern Ocean Atlas (Orsi and Whitworth, 2010) databases along with the improved spatial and temporal coverage provided by ARGO profiling data, new estimates of ocean salinity and temperature change (0-2000m) for the period 1950-2008 are derived. The data have been used to track changes in the hydrological cycle associated with global warming.

Key Strengths:

  • Combines temporally and spatially sparse high-quality hydrographic data with improved global coverage provided by Argo data since around 2004
  • Analysis attempts to minimise aliasing associated with the seasonal and major global El Nino-Southern Oscillation modes.
  • Error estimates provided

Key Limitations:

  • The historical hydrographic database is temporally and spatially sparse, with very poor coverage in the Southern Hemisphere prior to the Argo period (2004-present).

Years of Record

1950/01 to 2009/04
temporal metadataID:




Data Time Period Extended?

yes, data set is extended


Spatial Resolution

1 degree latitude (70S to 70N), 2 degrees longitude (0 to 358), 66 vertical levels (0 to 2000 dbar)

Ocean or Land

Ocean Only

Missing Data Flag

spatially complete

Vertical Levels

Input Data

Argo float data, ocean hydrographic database

Suggested Data Citation

When using this data, please cite Durack & Wijffels, 2010 and include recognition of the global Argo program in the acknowledgements: "This analysis is based on data made freely available by the International Argo Program and the national programs that contribute to it ("

Data Access: Please Cite data sources, following the data providers' instructions.

Key Figures

Click the thumbnails to view larger sizes



50-year mean (left) and changes (right) to global ocean surface salinity 50-year mean (left) and changes (right) to global ocean surface salinity (contributed by P. Durack)
50-year zonal mean changes global ocean salinity 50-year zonal mean changes global ocean salinity (contributed by P. Durack)

Cite this page

National Center for Atmospheric Research Staff (Eds). Last modified 20 Feb 2014. "The Climate Data Guide: Global Ocean Salinity Change, 1950-2008 (Durack-Wijffels)." Retrieved from

Acknowledgement of any material taken from this page is appreciated. On behalf of experts who have contributed data, advice, and/or figures, please cite their work as well.