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A review of global ocean temperature observations: Implications for ocean heat content estimates and climate change


Abraham, JP and Baringer, M and Bindoff, NL and Boyer, T and Cheng, LJ and Church, JA and Conroy, JL and Domingues, CM and Fasullo, JT and Gilson, J and Goni, G and Good, SA and Gorman, JM and Gouretski, V and Ishii, M and Johnson, GC and Kizu, S and Lyman, JM and Macdonald, AM and Minkowycz, WJ and Moffitt, SE and Palmer, MD and Piola, AR and Reseghetti, F and Schuckmann, K and Trenberth, KE and Velicogna, I and Willis, JK, A review of global ocean temperature observations: Implications for ocean heat content estimates and climate change, Reviews of Geophysics, 51, (3) pp. 450-483. ISSN 8755-1209 (2013) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2013 American Geophysical Union

DOI: doi:10.1002/rog.20022


The evolution of ocean temperature measurement systems is presented with a focus on the development and accuracy of two critical devices in use today (expendable bathythermographs and conductivity-temperature-depth instruments used on Argo floats). A detailed discussion of the accuracy of these devices and a projection of the future of ocean temperature measurements are provided. The accuracy of ocean temperature measurements is discussed in detail in the context of ocean heat content, Earth's energy imbalance, and thermosteric sea level rise. Up-to-date estimates are provided for these three important quantities. The total energy imbalance at the top of atmosphere is best assessed by taking an inventory of changes in energy storage. The main storage is in the ocean, the latest values of which are presented. Furthermore, despite differences in measurement methods and analysis techniques, multiple studies show that there has been a multidecadal increase in the heat content of both the upper and deep ocean regions, which reflects the impact of anthropogenic warming. With respect to sea level rise, mutually reinforcing information from tide gauges and radar altimetry shows that presently, sea level is rising at approximately 3 mm yr-1 with contributions from both thermal expansion and mass accumulation from ice melt. The latest data for thermal expansion sea level rise are included here and analyzed. Key Points Oceanographic techniques and analysis have improved over many decadesThese improvements allow more accurate Earth-energy balance estimatesUnderstanding of ocean heat content and sea-level rise has also increased ©2013. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:global ocean temperature, ocean heat content, climate change
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Oceanography
Research Field:Physical oceanography
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Understanding climate change
Objective Field:Understanding climate change not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Bindoff, NL (Professor Nathan Bindoff)
UTAS Author:Domingues, CM (Dr Catia Domingues)
ID Code:87996
Year Published:2013
Web of Science® Times Cited:280
Deposited By:CRC-Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems
Deposited On:2014-01-02
Last Modified:2017-10-31
Downloads:6 View Download Statistics

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