Climate Change Research ›› 2020, Vol. 16 ›› Issue (2): 172-181.doi: 10.12006/j.issn.1673-1719.2019.237

• New Scientific Understanding on Changes and Impacts of Oceans and Cryosphere • Previous Articles     Next Articles

SROCC: assessment of the ocean heat content change

CHENG Li-Jing   

  1. International Center for Climate and Environment Sciences, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100029, China
  • Received:2019-10-09 Revised:2019-10-17 Online:2020-03-30 Published:2020-04-01


The greenhouse gases emitted by human activities into the atmosphere produce an Earth’s energy imbalance that leads to global heating. IPCC AR5 indicated that the ocean has taken up more than 90% of the excess heat in the climate system. It is virtually certain that the global ocean has warmed unabated since 1970, which is attributed to anthropogenic forcing. Since 1993, the rate of ocean warming has likely more than doubled. The deep ocean below 2000 m has likely warmed since 1992, especially in the Southern Ocean. The Southern Ocean accounted for 35%-43% of the total heat gain in the upper 2000 m global ocean between 1970 and 2017 (high confidence). Its share increased to 45%-62% between 2005 and 2017. It is virtually certain that the ocean will continue warming throughout the 21st century. By 2100, the top 2000 m of the ocean is projected to take up 5-7 times more heat under RCP8.5 (or 2-4 times more heat under RCP2.6) than the observed accumulated ocean heat uptake within 1970-2017. The thermal expansion due to ocean warming contributes to ~43% of the global sea level rise since 1993.

Key words: Special report on the ocean and cryosphere in a changing climate (SROCC), Ocean heat content, Accelerate, Southern Ocean, Sea level

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