Effects of global warming on oceans
Waves on an ocean coast
Animated map exhibiting the world's oceanic waters. A continuous body of water encircling the Earth, the World Ocean is divided into a number of principal areas with relatively free interchange among them. Five oceanic divisions are usually reckoned: Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, Arctic, and Southern; the last two listed are sometimes consolidated into the first three.
Global mean land-ocean temperature change from 1880–2011, relative to the 1951–1980 mean. The black line is the annual mean and the red line is the 5-year running mean. The green bars show uncertainty estimates. Source: NASA GISS
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Observations of the changes in heat content of the ocean are important for providing realistic estimates of how the ocean is changing with global warming. An even more recent study of the contributions to global sea level due to melting of the two large ice sheets based on satellite measurements of gravity fluctuations suggests that the melting of these alone are causing global sea level to about 1 mm/yr. In a recent modeling study, scientists used an earth system model to study several variables of the ocean, one of which was the heat content of the oceans over the past several hundred years. The earth system model incorporated the atmosphere, land surface processes, and other earth components to make it more realistic and similar to observations. Results of their model simulation showed that since 1500, the ocean heat content of the upper 500 m has increased.
The connection between sea level rise and ocean thermal expansion follows from Charles's law (also known as the law of volumes) put...