EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

New estimates of observed poleward freshwater transport since 1970

Taimoor Sohail1, Jan Zika1,2,3, Damien Irving4,5, and John Church3,5
Taimoor Sohail et al.
  • 1University of New South Wales, School of Mathematics and Statistics, Australia (
  • 2UNSW Data Science Hub, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
  • 3Australian Centre for Excellence in Antarctic Science (ACEAS), University of New South Wales, NSW, Australia
  • 4Climate Science Centre, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Hobart, Australia
  • 5Climate Change Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

Global water cycle changes induced by anthropogenic climate change pose a growing threat to existing ecosystems and human infrastructure. However, scarce direct observations of precipitation and evaporation means historical water cycle changes remain uncertain. In this work, we apply a novel watermass-based diagnostic framework to the latest observations of ocean salinity to quantify poleward freshwater transport in the earth system since 1970. This observational estimate is not replicated in any model in the current generation of CMIP6 climate models - likely due to the inaccurate representation of surface freshwater flux intensification in such models. These results provide a first-of-its-kind baseline of observed warm-to-cold freshwater transport since 1970, and also underscore the need to further explore surface freshwater fluxes in existing climate models.

How to cite: Sohail, T., Zika, J., Irving, D., and Church, J.: New estimates of observed poleward freshwater transport since 1970, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-1377,, 2022.