May 10, 2013

Distinctive climate signals in reanalysis of global ocean heat content

Balmaseda, Magdalena A., Trenberth, Kevin E., Källén, Erland
Geophysical Research Letters
  • Presents the time evolution of the global ocean heat content for 1958 through 2009 from a new observation-based reanalysis of the ocean
  • Identifies volcanic eruptions and El Niño events as sharp cooling events punctuating a long-term ocean warming trend, while heating continues during the recent upper-ocean-warming hiatus, but the heat is absorbed in the deeper ocean
  • Finds that in the last decade, about 30% of the warming has occurred below 700 m, contributing significantly to an acceleration of the warming trend
  • Finds that the warming below 700 m remains even when the Argo observing system is withdrawn although the trends are reduced
  • Illustrates using sensitivity experiments that surface wind variability is largely responsible for the changing ocean heat vertical distribution