Significant salinity anomalies have been observed in the Arctic Ocean surface layer during the last decade. Our study is based on an extensive gridded dataset of winter salinity in the upper 50 m layer of the Arctic Ocean for the periods 1950–1993 and 2007–2012, obtained from ~20 000 profiles. We investigate the interannual variability of the salinity fields, identify predominant patterns of anomalous behavior and leading modes of variability, and develop a statistical model for the prediction of surface-layer salinity.