Seasonal Variability of Sea Surface Salinity in the NW Gulf of Guinea From SMAP Satellite

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Ocean Science and Engineering


The advent of satellite-derived sea surface salinity (SSS) measurements has boosted scientific study in less-sampled ocean regions such as the northwestern Gulf of Guinea (NWGoG). In this study, we examine the seasonal variability of SSS in the NWGoG from the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite and show that it is well-suited for such regional studies as it is able to reproduce the observed SSS features in the study region. SMAP SSS bias, relative to in-situ data comparisons, reflects the differences between skin layer measurements and bulk surface measurements that have been reported by previous studies. The study results reveal three broad anomalous SSS features: a basin-wide salinification during boreal summer, a basin-wide freshening during winter, and a meridionally oriented frontal system during other seasons. A salt budget estimation suggests that the seasonal SSS variability is dominated by changes in freshwater flux, zonal circulation, and upwelling. Freshwater flux, primarily driven by the seasonally varying Intertropical Convergence Zone, is a dominant contributor to salt budget in all seasons except during fall. Regionally, SSS is most variable off southwestern Nigeria and controlled primarily by westward extensions of the Niger River. Anomalous salty SSS off the coasts of Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana especially during summer are driven mainly by coastal upwelling and horizontal advection.

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