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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

"A review of global ocean temperature observations: Implications for ocean heat content estimates and climate change," by John Abraham et al., Rev. Geophys., 2013; doi: 10.1002/rog.20022

Review of Geophysics, 2013; DOI: 10.1002/rog.20022

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

  1. J. P. Abraham1,*
  2. M. Baringer2
  3. N. L. Bindoff3,6,8
  4. T. Boyer4
  5. L. J. Cheng5
  6. J. A. Church6
  7. J. L. Conroy7
  8. C. M. Domingues8,
  9. J. T. Fasullo9
  10. J. Gilson10
  11. G. Goni2
  12. S. A. Good11
  13. J. M. Gorman1
  14. V. Gouretski12,
  15. M. Ishii13
  16. G. C. Johnson14
  17. S. Kizu15
  18. J. M. Lyman14,16
  19. A. M. Macdonald17
  20. W. J. Minkowycz18
  21. S. E. Moffitt19,20
  22. M. D. Palmer11
  23. A. R. Piola21
  24. F. Reseghetti22,
  25. K. Schuckmann23
  26.  K. 
  27. E. Trenberth9
  28. I. Velicogna24,25, and 
  29. J. K. Willis25

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 CTDs – 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 multi-decadal increase in the heat content of both the upper and deep ocean regions, which reflect the impact of anthropogenic warming. With respect to sea-level rise, mutually reinforcing information from tide gauges and radar altimetry show 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.

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