Warming of the World Ocean, 1955-2003 and Earth's Heat Balance

Sydney Levitus

National Oceanographic Data Center 
We present analyses of approximately 7 million temperature profiles from the world ocean that indicate that since 1955 the world ocean has warmed by approximately 14.5x10**22 J. This corresponds to a warming of 0.037 degrees centigrade of the upper 3000 m of the world ocean at a rate of approximately 0.2 watts per square meter of the earth' surface. During the 1955-1998 period, ocean warming accounted for approximately 84% of the total possible heat change increase of the entire earth system including atmosphere and lithospheric warming and possible melting of part's of the earth's cryosphere. The increase in ocean heat content is consistent with the increase of heat in the earth system expected from the observed increase in greenhouse gases in the earth's atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution.

Results just submitted for publication using EOF and Fourier analysis of 0-700 m yearly ocean heat content fields, show that the patterns of ocean heat content variability responsible for producing the 0- 700 m global ocean heat content integral for 1955-2003 are of gyre and basin scale. If time permits some results describing the variability of salinity and thermosteric and halosteric components of sea level will be presented.