Researchers: Ocean waters becoming more salty

Change impacting local climate, weather

SAN DIEGO - Ocean waters are becoming more salty, according to findings by local researchers.

Niko Kaplanis loves to run into the ocean to catch a few waves and at times, deep-sea dive.

"San Diego is blessed with a beautiful ocean with a lot of gorgeous and unique ecosystems," said Kaplanis, a surfer.

However, things are changing in that beautiful ocean. You cannot actually see it or taste the difference, but that water is getting saltier.

"On a local scale, it's kind of hard to notice small change in salinity," said Kaplanis.

Kaplanis, who is also a research student at UC San Diego, understands the impact on a global scale.

New findings by Scripps Institute of Oceanography climate researcher David Pierce outline several effects of more salt in the oceans.

"In Southern California, what's going to happen as these changes in the water cycle proceed… we'll probably get a little bit drier," said Pierce.

He told 10News research data also shows ocean waters are warming in the upper 2,000 feet. Pierce said it can only be explained as a direct result of human activities.

"Putting green house gases into our atmosphere, we also release little particulates into the atmosphere… all these changes we're making to our environment," he said.

Another interesting part of the story is that the Atlantic Ocean may have more salinity while the Pacific Ocean may get more fresh water.

"As temperatures warm, there is more evaporation from the Atlantic," said Pierce. "Then the trade winds carry that water vapor across Central America where it falls in the Pacific."

It sends an export of fresh water from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

However, that does not mean the region will receive more rain.

"We'll probably have a little less rainfall, maybe about 10 percent or so," said Pierce.

That is enough to concern Kaplanis, who had this message for naysayers of climate change.

"They're just not quite informed on how a really small oceanographic change can have really broad consequences," said Kaplanis.

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