Lijing Cheng and Jiang Zhu

Advances in Atmospheric Sciences

Published date January 29, 2018

2017 was the Warmest Year on Record for the Global Ocean

  • Summarizes the Institute of Atmospheric Physics' (IAP's) observation-based ocean temperature analysis from the sea surface down to a depth of 2000 m, available from the year 1940
  • States that the analysis includes:
    • All the available in-situ ocean observations from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/National Centers for Environmental Information
    • The Argo network's observations with near-global ocean coverage
  • Reports that:
    • 2017 was the warmest year on record for the global ocean
    • The last five years have been the five warmest years in the ocean
    • The oceans in the upper 2000 m were 1.51 × 1022 joules warmer than the second-warmest year of 2015 and 19.19×1022 joules above the 1981–2010 climatological reference period  
    • For comparison, total electricity generation in China in 2016 was 0.00216 × 1022 joules, which is 699 times smaller than the increase in ocean heat in 2017
    • The year 2016 was cooler than both 2015 and 2017 owing to the huge El Niño, which took some of the heat out of the ocean