Salinity

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Annual mean sea surface salinity for the World Ocean. Data from the World Ocean Atlas 2009. WOA09 sea-surf SAL AYool.png
Annual mean sea surface salinity for the World Ocean. Data from the World Ocean Atlas 2009.
International Association for the Physical Sciences of the Oceans (IAPSO) standard seawater. IAPSO Standard Seawater.jpg
International Association for the Physical Sciences of the Oceans (IAPSO) standard seawater.

Salinity ( /səˈlɪnəti/ ) is the saltiness or amount of salt dissolved in a body of water, called saline water (see also soil salinity). This is usually measured in (note that this is technically dimensionless). Salinity is an important factor in determining many aspects of the chemistry of natural waters and of biological processes within it, and is a thermodynamic state variable that, along with temperature and pressure, governs physical characteristics like the density and heat capacity of the water.

Salt (chemistry) ionic compound

In chemistry, a salt is an ionic compound that can be formed by the neutralization reaction of an acid and a base. Salts are composed of related numbers of cations and anions so that the product is electrically neutral. These component ions can be inorganic, such as chloride (Cl), or organic, such as acetate ; and can be monatomic, such as fluoride (F), or polyatomic, such as sulfate.

Water chemical compound

Water is a transparent, tasteless, odorless, and nearly colorless chemical substance, which is the main constituent of Earth's streams, lakes, and oceans, and the fluids of most living organisms. It is vital for all known forms of life, even though it provides no calories or organic nutrients. Its chemical formula is H2O, meaning that each of its molecules contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms, connected by covalent bonds. Water is the name of the liquid state of H2O at standard ambient temperature and pressure. It forms precipitation in the form of rain and aerosols in the form of fog. Clouds are formed from suspended droplets of water and ice, its solid state. When finely divided, crystalline ice may precipitate in the form of snow. The gaseous state of water is steam or water vapor. Water moves continually through the water cycle of evaporation, transpiration (evapotranspiration), condensation, precipitation, and runoff, usually reaching the sea.

Saline water water that contains a significant concentration of dissolved salts (mainly NaCl)

Saline water is water that contains a high concentration of dissolved salts. The salt concentration is usually expressed in parts per thousand or parts per million (ppm). The United States Geological Survey classifies saline water in three salinity categories. Salt concentration in slightly saline water is around 1,000 to 3,000 ppm (0.1–0.3%), in moderately saline water 3,000 to 10,000 ppm (0.3–1%) and in highly saline water 10,000 to 35,000 ppm (1–3.5%). Seawater has a salinity of roughly 35,000 ppm, equivalent to 35 grams of salt per one liter of water. The saturation level is dependent on the temperature of the water. At 20 °C one liter of water can dissolve about 357 grams of salt, a concentration of 26.3%. At boiling (100 °C) the amount that can be dissolved in one liter of water increases to about 391 grams, a concentration of 28.1%.

Contents

A contour line of constant salinity is called an isohaline, or sometimes isohale.

Contour line line connecting points of the same value on a map

A contour line of a function of two variables is a curve along which the function has a constant value, so that the curve joins points of equal value. It is a plane section of the three-dimensional graph of the function f(x, y) parallel to the x, y plane. In cartography, a contour line joins points of equal elevation (height) above a given level, such as mean sea level. A contour map is a map illustrated with contour lines, for example a topographic map, which thus shows valleys and hills, and the steepness or gentleness of slopes. The contour interval of a contour map is the difference in elevation between successive contour lines.

Definitions

Salinity in rivers, lakes, and the ocean is conceptually simple, but technically challenging to define and measure precisely. Conceptually the salinity is the quantity of dissolved salt content of the water. Salts are compounds like sodium chloride, magnesium sulfate, potassium nitrate, and sodium bicarbonate which dissolve into ions. The concentration of dissolved chloride ions is sometimes referred to as chlorinity. Operationally, dissolved matter is defined as that which can pass through a very fine filter (historically a filter with a pore size of 0.45 μm, but nowadays usually 0.2 μm). [2] Salinity can be expressed in the form of a mass fraction, i.e. the mass of the dissolved material in a unit mass of solution.

Sodium chloride Chemical compound

Sodium chloride, commonly known as salt, is an ionic compound with the chemical formula NaCl, representing a 1:1 ratio of sodium and chloride ions. With molar masses of 22.99 and 35.45 g/mol respectively, 100 g of NaCl contains 39.34 g Na and 60.66 g Cl. Sodium chloride is the salt most responsible for the salinity of seawater and of the extracellular fluid of many multicellular organisms. In its edible form of table salt, it is commonly used as a condiment and food preservative. Large quantities of sodium chloride are used in many industrial processes, and it is a major source of sodium and chlorine compounds used as feedstocks for further chemical syntheses. A second major application of sodium chloride is de-icing of roadways in sub-freezing weather.

Magnesium sulfate chemical compound

Magnesium sulfate is an inorganic salt with the formula MgSO4(H2O)x where 0≤x≤7. It is often encountered as the heptahydrate sulfate mineral epsomite (MgSO4·7H2O), commonly called Epsom salt. The overall global annual usage in the mid-1970s of the monohydrate was 2.3 million tons, of which the majority was used in agriculture.

Potassium nitrate chemical compound

Potassium nitrate is a chemical compound with the chemical formula KNO3. It is an ionic salt of potassium ions K+ and nitrate ions NO3, and is therefore an alkali metal nitrate.

Seawater typically has a mass salinity of around 35 g/kg, although lower values are typical near coasts where rivers enter the ocean. Rivers and lakes can have a wide range of salinities, from less than 0.01 g/kg [3] to a few g/kg, although there are many places where higher salinities are found. The Dead Sea has a salinity of more than 200 g/kg. [4] Rainwater before touching the ground typically has a TDS of 20 mg/L or less. [5]

Dead Sea salt lake bordering Jordan and Israel

The Dead Sea is a salt lake bordered by Jordan to the east and Israel and the West Bank to the west. It lies in the Jordan Rift Valley, and its main tributary is the Jordan River.

Whatever pore size is used in the definition, the resulting salinity value of a given sample of natural water will not vary by more than a few percent (%). Physical oceanographers working in the abyssal ocean, however, are often concerned with precision and intercomparability of measurements by different researchers, at different times, to almost five significant digits. [6] A bottled seawater product known as IAPSO Standard Seawater is used by oceanographers to standardize their measurements with enough precision to meet this requirement.

The abyssal zone or abyssopelagic zone is a layer of the pelagic zone of the ocean. "Abyss" derives from the Greek word ἄβυσσος, meaning bottomless. At depths of 4,000 to 6,000 metres, this zone remains in perpetual darkness. These regions are also characterized by continuous cold and lack of nutrients. The abyssal zone has temperatures around 2 to 3 °C through the large majority of its mass. It is the deeper part of the midnight zone which starts in the bathypelagic waters above.

Composition

Measurement and definition difficulties arise because natural waters contain a complex mixture of many different elements from different sources (not all from dissolved salts) in different molecular forms. The chemical properties of some of these forms depend on temperature and pressure. Many of these forms are difficult to measure with high accuracy, and in any case complete chemical analysis is not practical when analyzing multiple samples. Different practical definitions of salinity result from different attempts to account for these problems, to different levels of precision, while still remaining reasonably easy to use.

For practical reasons salinity is usually related to the sum of masses of a subset of these dissolved chemical constituents (so-called solution salinity), rather than to the unknown mass of salts that gave rise to this composition (an exception is when artificial seawater is created). For many purposes this sum can be limited to a set of eight major ions in natural waters, [7] [8] although for seawater at highest precision an additional seven minor ions are also included. [6] The major ions dominate the inorganic composition of most (but by no means all) natural waters. Exceptions include some pit lakes and waters from some hydrothermal springs.

Artificial seawater is a mixture of dissolved mineral salts that simulates seawater. Artificial seawater is primarily used in marine biology and in marine and reef aquaria, and allows the easy preparation of media appropriate for marine organisms. From a scientific perspective, artificial seawater has the advantage of reproducibility over natural seawater since it is a standardized formula. Synthetic seawater is also known as artificial seawater and substitute ocean water.

Cenote A natural pit, or sinkhole, that exposes groundwater underneath

A cenote is a natural pit, or sinkhole, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath. Especially associated with the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, cenotes were sometimes used by the ancient Maya for sacrificial offerings.

The concentrations of dissolved gases like oxygen and nitrogen are not usually included in descriptions of salinity. [2] However, carbon dioxide gas, which when dissolved is partially converted into carbonates and bicarbonates, is often included. Silicon in the form of silicic acid, which usually appears as a neutral molecule in the pH range of most natural waters, may also be included for some purposes (e.g., when salinity/density relationships are being investigated).

Seawater

Full 3 minute NASA video Feb 27,2013 The NASA Aquarius instrument aboard Argentina's SAC-D satellite is designed to measure global sea surface salinity. This movie shows salinity patterns as measured by Aquarius from December 2011 through December 2012. Red colors represent areas of high salinity, while blue shades represent areas of low salinity.

The term 'salinity' is, for oceanographers, usually associated with one of a set of specific measurement techniques. As the dominant techniques evolve, so do different descriptions of salinity. Salinities were largely measured using titration-based techniques before the 1980s. Titration with silver nitrate could be used to determine the concentration of halide ions (mainly chlorine and bromine) to give a chlorinity. The chlorinity was then multiplied by a factor to account for all other constituents. The resulting 'Knudsen salinities' are expressed in units of parts per thousand (ppt or ).

The use of electrical conductivity measurements to estimate the ionic content of seawater led to the development of the scale called the practical salinity scale 1978 (PSS-78). [9] [10] Salinities measured using PSS-78 do not have units. The suffix psu or PSU (denoting practical salinity unit) is sometimes added to PSS-78 measurement values. [11]

In 2010 a new standard for the properties of seawater called the thermodynamic equation of seawater 2010 (TEOS-10) was introduced, advocating absolute salinity as a replacement for practical salinity, and conservative temperature as a replacement for potential temperature. [6] This standard includes a new scale called the reference composition salinity scale. Absolute salinities on this scale are expressed as a mass fraction, in grams per kilogram of solution. Salinities on this scale are determined by combining electrical conductivity measurements with other information that can account for regional changes in the composition of seawater. They can also be determined by making direct density measurements.

A sample of seawater from most locations with a chlorinity of 19.37 ppt will have a Knudsen salinity of 35.00 ppt, a PSS-78 practical salinity of about 35.0, and a TEOS-10 absolute salinity of about 35.2 g/kg. The electrical conductivity of this water at a temperature of 15 °C is 42.9 mS/cm. [6] [12]

Lakes and rivers

Limnologists and chemists often define salinity in terms of mass of salt per unit volume, expressed in units of mg per litre or g per litre. [7] It is implied, although often not stated, that this value applies accurately only at some reference temperature. Values presented in this way are typically accurate to the order of 1%. Limnologists also use electrical conductivity, or "reference conductivity", as a proxy for salinity. This measurement may be corrected for temperature effects, and is usually expressed in units of μS/cm.

A river or lake water with a salinity of around 70 mg/L will typically have a specific conductivity at 25 °C of between 80 and 130 μS/cm. The actual ratio depends on the ions present. [13] The actual conductivity usually changes by about 2% per degree Celsius, so the measured conductivity at 5 °C might only be in the range of 50–80 μS/cm.

Direct density measurements are also used to estimate salinities, particularly in highly saline lakes. [4] Sometimes density at a specific temperature is used as a proxy for salinity. At other times an empirical salinity/density relationship developed for a particular body of water is used to estimate the salinity of samples from a measured density.


Water salinity
Fresh water Brackish water Saline water Brine
< 0.05% 0.05 – 3% 3 – 5% > 5%
< 0.5 ‰ 0.5 – 30 ‰ 30 – 50 ‰ > 50 ‰

Classification of water bodies based upon salinity

Thalassic series
>300
hyperhaline
60–80
metahaline
40
mixoeuhaline
30
polyhaline
18
mesohaline
5
oligohaline
0.5

Marine waters are those of the ocean, another term for which is euhaline seas. The salinity of euhaline seas is 30 to 35. Brackish seas or waters have salinity in the range of 0.5 to 29 and metahaline seas from 36 to 40. These waters are all regarded as thalassic because their salinity is derived from the ocean and defined as homoiohaline if salinity does not vary much over time (essentially constant). The table on the right, modified from Por (1972), [14] follows the "Venice system" (1959). [15]

In contrast to homoiohaline environments are certain poikilohaline environments (which may also be thalassic) in which the salinity variation is biologically significant. [16] Poikilohaline water salinities may range anywhere from 0.5 to greater than 300. The important characteristic is that these waters tend to vary in salinity over some biologically meaningful range seasonally or on some other roughly comparable time scale. Put simply, these are bodies of water with quite variable salinity.

Highly saline water, from which salts crystallize (or are about to), is referred to as brine.

Environmental considerations

Salinity is an ecological factor of considerable importance, influencing the types of organisms that live in a body of water. As well, salinity influences the kinds of plants that will grow either in a water body, or on land fed by a water (or by a groundwater). [17] A plant adapted to saline conditions is called a halophyte. A halophyte which is tolerant to residual sodium carbonate salinity are called glasswort or saltwort or barilla plants. Organisms (mostly bacteria) that can live in very salty conditions are classified as extremophiles, or halophiles specifically. An organism that can withstand a wide range of salinities is euryhaline.

Salt is expensive to remove from water, and salt content is an important factor in water use (such as potability). Increases in salinity have been observed in lakes and rivers in the United States, due to common road salt and other salt de-icers in runoff. [18]

The degree of salinity in oceans is a driver of the world's ocean circulation, where density changes due to both salinity changes and temperature changes at the surface of the ocean produce changes in buoyancy, which cause the sinking and rising of water masses. Changes in the salinity of the oceans are thought to contribute to global changes in carbon dioxide as more saline waters are less soluble to carbon dioxide. In addition, during glacial periods, the hydrography is such that a possible cause of reduced circulation is the production of stratified oceans. In such cases, it is more difficult to subduct water through the thermohaline circulation.

See also

Related Research Articles

pH measure of the acidity or basicity of an aqueous solution

In chemistry, pH is a scale used to specify how acidic or basic a water-based solution is. Acidic solutions have a lower pH, basic solutions have a higher pH. At room temperature, pure water is neither acidic nor basic and has a pH of 7.

Solution A homogeneous mixture which assumes the phase of the solvent

In chemistry, a solution is a special type of homogeneous mixture composed of two or more substances. The term aqueous solution is when one of the solvents is water. In such a mixture, a solute is a substance dissolved in another substance, known as a solvent. The mixing process of a solution happens at a scale where the effects of chemical polarity are involved, resulting in interactions that are specific to solvation. The solution assumes the phase of the solvent when the solvent is the larger fraction of the mixture, as is commonly the case. The concentration of a solute in a solution is the mass of that solute expressed as a percentage of the mass of the whole solution.

Solubility Capacity of a designated solvent to hold a designated solute in homogeneous solution under specified conditions

Solubility is the property of a solid, liquid or gaseous chemical substance called solute to dissolve in a solid, liquid or gaseous solvent. The solubility of a substance fundamentally depends on the physical and chemical properties of the solute and solvent as well as on temperature, pressure and presence of other chemicals of the solution. The extent of the solubility of a substance in a specific solvent is measured as the saturation concentration, where adding more solute does not increase the concentration of the solution and begins to precipitate the excess amount of solute.

Brine A highly concentrated solution of a salt in water

Brine is a high-concentration solution of salt in water. In different contexts, brine may refer to salt solutions ranging from about 3.5% up to about 26%. Lower levels of concentration are called by different names: fresh water, brackish water, and saline water.

Seawater Water from a sea or ocean

Seawater, or salt water, is water from a sea or ocean. On average, seawater in the world's oceans has a salinity of about 3.5%. This means that every kilogram of seawater has approximately 35 grams (1.2 oz) of dissolved salts. Average density at the surface is 1.025 kg/L. Seawater is denser than both fresh water and pure water because the dissolved salts increase the mass by a larger proportion than the volume. The freezing point of seawater decreases as salt concentration increases. At typical salinity, it freezes at about −2 °C (28 °F). The coldest seawater ever recorded was in 2010, in a stream under an Antarctic glacier, and measured −2.6 °C (27.3 °F). Seawater pH is typically limited to a range between 7.5 and 8.4. However, there is no universally accepted reference pH-scale for seawater and the difference between measurements based on different reference scales may be up to 0.14 units.

In oceanography, a halocline is a subtype of chemocline caused by a strong, vertical salinity gradient within a body of water. Because salinity affects the density of seawater, it can play a role in its vertical stratification. Increasing salinity by one kg/m3 results in an increase of seawater density of around 0.7 kg/m3.

Alkalinity The capacity of water to resist changes in pH that would make the water more acidic

Alkalinity is the capacity of water to resist changes in pH that would make the water more acidic. Alkalinity is the strength of a buffer solution composed of weak acids and their conjugate bases. It is measured by titrating the solution with a monoprotic acid such as HCl until its pH changes abruptly, or it reaches a known endpoint where that happens. Alkalinity is expressed in units of meq/L, which corresponds to the amount of monoprotic acid added as a titrant in millimoles per liter.

Electrodialysis

Electrodialysis (ED) is used to transport salt ions from one solution through ion-exchange membranes to another solution under the influence of an applied electric potential difference. This is done in a configuration called an electrodialysis cell. The cell consists of a feed (dilute) compartment and a concentrate (brine) compartment formed by an anion exchange membrane and a cation exchange membrane placed between two electrodes. In almost all practical electrodialysis processes, multiple electrodialysis cells are arranged into a configuration called an electrodialysis stack, with alternating anion and cation exchange membranes forming the multiple electrodialysis cells. Electrodialysis processes are different from distillation techniques and other membrane based processes in that dissolved species are moved away from the feed stream rather than the reverse. Because the quantity of dissolved species in the feed stream is far less than that of the fluid, electrodialysis offers the practical advantage of much higher feed recovery in many applications.

An analyser or analyzer is a person or device that analyses given data. It examines in detail the structure of the given data and tries to find patterns and relationships between parts of the data. An analyser can be a piece of hardware or a computer program running on a computer.

Osmotic power, salinity gradient power or blue energy is the energy available from the difference in the salt concentration between seawater and river water. Two practical methods for this are reverse electrodialysis (RED) and pressure retarded osmosis (PRO). Both processes rely on osmosis with membranes. The key waste product is brackish water. This byproduct is the result of natural forces that are being harnessed: the flow of fresh water into seas that are made up of salt water.

Total dissolved solids

Total dissolved solids (TDS) is a measure of the dissolved combined content of all inorganic and organic substances present in a liquid in molecular, ionized or micro-granular suspended form. Generally the operational definition is that the solids must be small enough to survive filtration through a filter with two-micrometer pores. Total dissolved solids are normally discussed only for freshwater systems, as salinity includes some of the ions constituting the definition of TDS. The principal application of TDS is in the study of water quality for streams, rivers and lakes, although TDS is not generally considered a primary pollutant it is used as an indication of aesthetic characteristics of drinking water and as an aggregate indicator of the presence of a broad array of chemical contaminants.

Aquarius (SAC-D instrument) NASA instrument aboard the Argentine SAC-D spacecraft

Aquarius was a NASA instrument aboard the Argentine SAC-D spacecraft. Its mission was to measure global sea surface salinity to better predict future climate conditions.

Electrical conductivity meter Sensor device

An electrical conductivity meter measures the electrical conductivity in a solution. It has multiple applications in research and engineering, with common usage in hydroponics, aquaculture, aquaponics, and freshwater systems to monitor the amount of nutrients, salts or impurities in the water.

Reverse osmosis (RO) is a water purification technology that uses a partially permeable membrane to remove ions, molecules and larger particles from drinking water. In reverse osmosis, an applied pressure is used to overcome osmotic pressure, a colligative property, that is driven by chemical potential differences of the solvent, a thermodynamic parameter. Reverse osmosis can remove many types of dissolved and suspended chemical species as well as biological ones (principally bacteria) from water, and is used in both industrial processes and the production of potable water. The result is that the solute is retained on the pressurized side of the membrane and the pure solvent is allowed to pass to the other side. To be "selective", this membrane should not allow large molecules or ions through the pores (holes), but should allow smaller components of the solution (such as solvent molecules, i.e., water, H2O) to pass freely.

Conductivity (electrolytic) measure of ability of an electrolyte solution to conduct electricity

Conductivity of an electrolyte solution is a measure of its ability to conduct electricity. The SI unit of conductivity is Siemens per meter (S/m).

Estuarine water circulation is controlled by the inflow of rivers, the tides, rainfall and evaporation, the wind, and other oceanic events such as an upwelling, an eddy, and storms. Estuarine water circulation patterns are influenced by vertical mixing and stratification, and can affect residence time and exposure time.

Paleosalinity is the salinity of the global ocean or of an ocean basin at a point in geological history.

Brine mining is the extraction of useful materials which are naturally dissolved in brine. The brine may be seawater, other surface water, or groundwater. It differs from solution mining or in-situ leaching in that those methods inject water or chemicals to dissolve materials which are in a solid state; in brine mining, the materials are already dissolved.

References

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  12. Culkin, F.; Smith, N. D. (1980). "Determination of the Concentration of Potassium Chloride Solution Having the Same Electrical Conductivity, at 15C and Infinite Frequency, as Standard Seawater of Salinity 35.0000‰ (Chlorinity 19.37394‰)". IEEE J. Oceanic Eng. OE-5 (1): 22–23. doi:10.1109/JOE.1980.1145443.
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  15. Venice system (1959). The final resolution of the symposium on the classification of brackish waters. Archo Oceanogr. Limnol., 11 (suppl): 243–248.
  16. Dahl, E. (1956). "Ecological salinity boundaries in poikilohaline waters". Oikos. 7 (1): 1–21. doi:10.2307/3564981. JSTOR   3564981.
  17. Kalcic, Maria, Turowski, Mark; Hall, Callie (2010-12-22). "Stennis Space Center Salinity Drifter Project. A Collaborative Project with Hancock High School, Kiln, MS". Stennis Space Center Salinity Drifter Project. NTRS. Retrieved 2011-06-16.
  18. "Hopes To Hold The Salt, And Instead Break Out Beet Juice And Beer To Keep Roads Clear". www.wbur.org.

Further reading