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AGU: Geophysical Research Letters

 

Keywords

  • climate variability
  • ocean heat content

Index Terms

  • 1635 - Oceans
  • 1641 - Sea level change
  • 4215 - Climate and interannual variability
  • 4513 - Decadal ocean variability

Paper in Press

GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, doi:10.1029/2012GL051106

World ocean heat content and thermosteric sea level change (0-2000), 1955-2010

Key Points
  • A strong positive linear trend in exists in world ocean heat contentsince 1955
  • One third of the observed warming occurs in the 700-2000 m layer of the ocean
  • The warming can only be explained by the increase in atmospheric GHGs

Authors:

Sydney Levitus

John I. Antonov

Tim P. Boyer

Olga K. Baranova

Hernan Eduardo Garcia

Ricardo Alejandro Locarnini

Alexey V. Mishonov

James Reagan

Dan Seidov

Evgeney S. Yarosh

Melissa Marie Zweng

We provide updated estimates of the change of heat content and the thermosteric component of sea level change of the 0-700 and 0-2000 m layers of the world ocean for 1955-2010. Our estimates are based on historical data not previously available, additional modern data, correcting for instrumental biases of bathythermograph data, and correcting or excluding some Argo float data. The heat content of the world ocean for the 0-2000 m layer increased by 24.0x1022 J corresponding to a rate of 0.39 Wm-2 (per unit area of the world ocean) and a volume mean warming of 0.09ºC. This warming rate corresponds to a rate of 0.27 Wm-2 per unit area of earth's surface. The heat content of the world ocean for the 0-700 m layer increased by 16.7x1022 J corresponding to a rate of 0.27 Wm-2 (per unit area of the world ocean) and a volume mean warming of 0.18ºC. The world ocean accounts for approximately 90% of the warming of the earth system that has occurred since 1955. The thermosteric component of sea level trend is 0.54 mm yr-1 for the 0-2000 m layer and 0.41 mm yr-1 for the 0-700 m layer of the world ocean for 1955-2010.

Received 26 January 2012; accepted 16 April 2012.

Citation: Levitus, S., et al. (2012), World ocean heat content and thermosteric sea level change (0-2000), 1955-2010, Geophys. Res. Lett., doi:10.1029/2012GL051106, in press.