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Salinity Pilot-Mission Exploitation Platform

Large river plumes monitoring

Large rivers are key hydrologic components in oceanography, particularly regarding air-sea and land-sea exchanges and biogeochemistry. Despite this importance, tracing major river water over large distances in the ocean has not been straightforward before the satellite SSS era principally because of a lack of in situ SSS observations in these highly dynamical zones. Being able to routinely monitor the dispersal patterns of river plumes, their spatial extension and mixing rates, now become feasible thanks to SMOS, Aquarius/SAC-D and SMAP SSS data. Here, we illustrate this new capability for the plumes of the world’s largest rivers in terms of discharge, i.e., the Amazon, Orinoco, Congo, Niger, Mississippi, Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers.