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With the view of preparing the strategy for the calibration/validation of future L-band satellite radiometers, we examine the salinity variability recorded by Array for Real-Time Geostrophic Oceanography (ARGO) floats in the upper 10-m layer of the surface ocean. Using one year of ARGO measurements,we show that the surface salinity variability at ten days and 200-km scales is above ±0.1 psu for 30% of the drifters and that this variability is larger than 0.2 psu in tropical regions affected by strong river discharges and by precipitations, and in frontal areas characterized by strong mesoscale activity. Vertical gradient observed between 5-10-m depth is much lower than the horizontal variability but leads to systematic biases in the tropics. The South Pacific Ocean appears to be the less variable both vertically and horizontally.