Research Article

Warming of the World Ocean

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Science  24 Mar 2000:
Vol. 287, Issue 5461, pp. 2225-2229
DOI: 10.1126/science.287.5461.2225

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Abstract

We quantify the interannual-to-decadal variability of the heat content (mean temperature) of the world ocean from the surface through 3000-meter depth for the period 1948 to 1998. The heat content of the world ocean increased by ∼2 × 1023 joules between the mid-1950s and mid-1990s, representing a volume mean warming of 0.06°C. This corresponds to a warming rate of 0.3 watt per meter squared (per unit area of Earth's surface). Substantial changes in heat content occurred in the 300- to 1000-meter layers of each ocean and in depths greater than 1000 meters of the North Atlantic. The global volume mean temperature increase for the 0- to 300-meter layer was 0.31°C, corresponding to an increase in heat content for this layer of ∼1023 joules between the mid-1950s and mid-1990s. The Atlantic and Pacific Oceans have undergone a net warming since the 1950s and the Indian Ocean has warmed since the mid-1960s, although the warming is not monotonic.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: slevitus{at}nodc.noaa.gov

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