Skip to Main Content
Global sea surface salinity (SSS) measurements retrieved from the European Space Agency's Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) mission are the first highest resolution salinity data available from space. There are many challenges to measuring salinity from space and obtaining a targeted accuracy of 0.1 psu. Comparisons of Level 2 (L2) SMOS SSS data with the 1/12° high resolution HYbrid Coordinate Ocean Model (HYCOM) simulations of SSS reveal large differences. These differences are minimized for an extent during the creation of Level 3 (L3) SMOS data through spatial and temporal averaging. Depending on the retrieval algorithm used, there are differences between ascending and descending passes with data collected during the descending pass exhibiting a bias toward lower SSS. It is challenging to process SMOS SSS data in the northern Indian Ocean due to radio frequency interference and large seasonal variability due to monsoonal circulation. Comparisons of SMOS L3 data with Argo float SSS and HYCOM SSS indicate the lowest discrepancies in SSS for these data sets occur in the southern tropical Indian Ocean and the largest differences between the compared salinity products are noticed in the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal with an erratic root mean square error in the latter region. Higher errors in SSS occurred in coastal areas compared to the open ocean. The accuracy of SMOS salinity measurements is increasing with the maturity of the data and new algorithms.