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Research: Ocean Heat Content Continued to Rise Through 2010

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In a follow-up to a previously written paper, Levitus et al. 2012 (subs. req’d) shows that the world’s oceans  continued to absorb heat through 2010:

Two interesting things to point out: most of the heat from 1990 through 2005 stayed in the 0-700m layer (visually subtract the 700-2000m from the 0-2000m time series: the lines diverge), then most of the heat from 2005 through 2010 went into the 700-2000m layer (the lines didn’t diverge nearly as quickly as before).

From the paper’s abstract:

The heat content of the World Ocean for the 0-2000 m layer increased by 24.0±1.9×1022 J (±2S.E.) corresponding to a rate of 0.39 W m-2 (per unit area of the World Ocean) and a volume mean warming of 0.09º C.

From the paper’s discussion:

Using model simulations based on AOGCM simulations, Dommenget [2009] concluded that “continental warming due to anthropogenic forcing (e. g., the warming at the end of the last century or future climate change scenarios) is mostly (80%-90%) indirectly forced by the contemporaneous ocean warming, not directly by local radiative forcing.” Thus even if greenhouse gas emissions were halted today than [sic] regardless of the residence time of the carbon dioxide in today’s atmosphere, the ocean would continue to heat the atmosphere [Wetherald et al., 2001] .

All the major ocean basins (Pacific, Atlantic, Indian) saw increased heat content at almost every latitude, according to the Argo dataset.  The reason the ocean would continue to heat the atmosphere should be obvious from the paper’s figure above as well as this related figure:

The surface warming to date (0.74°C or 1.37°F – IPCC AR4 WGI) is but a small fraction of the surface warming that will result from the heat imbalance currently affecting the planet.  Additional greenhouse gas emissions will lead to further heating and warming.

Roger Pielke Sr. commented on this paper here.  He talks about the difference between the recorded heat content and a statement made by NASA’s Jim Hansen in 2005.


One thought on “Research: Ocean Heat Content Continued to Rise Through 2010

  1. Pingback: Research: Recent Warming Rate May Be Higher Than Previous Estimates | Weatherdem's Weblog

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