Nov 1, 2018

Quantification of ocean heat uptake from changes in atmospheric O2 and CO2 composition

L. Resplandy, R. F. Keeling, Y. Eddebbar, M. K. Brooks, R. Wang, L. Bopp, M. C. Long, J. P. Dunne, W. Koeve, A. Oschlies
  • Provides an independent estimate by using measurements of atmospheric oxygen (O2) and carbon dioxide (CO2)—levels of which increase as the ocean warms and releases gases—as a whole-ocean thermometer
  • Shows that the ocean gained 1.33±0.20×10^22 joules of heat per year between 1991 and 2016, equivalent to a planetary energy imbalance of 0.83± 0.11 watts per square metre of Earth’s surface
  • Finds the ocean-warming effect that led to the outgassing of O2 and CO2 can be isolated from the direct effects of anthropogenic emissions and CO2 sinks
  • The results—which rely on high-precision O2 measurements dating back to 1991—suggest that ocean warming is at the high end of previous estimates, with implications for policy-relevant measurements of the Earth response to climate change, such as climate sensitivity to greenhouse gases and the thermal component of sea-level rise