Ocean Temperature Change

The ocean acts as the largest reservoir of heat in Earth’s climate system and plays a critical role in regulating climate on seasonal to centennial timescales. As the climate warms due to anthropogenic greenhouse gas forcing, the ocean responds by absorbing and storing excess heat from the atmosphere.

Global Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies

Global monthly mean sea surface temperature anomalies and the long-term trend. Data from the NOAA OISST dataset.

Marine Heatwaves

As with heatwaves on land, climate change also causes dangerous hot-water events to become more frequent in the ocean. These extreme events, called marine heatwaves (MHWs), are increasing in frequency globally leading to prolonged periods of thermal stress in the marine environment. Several recent high profile MHWs have occurred over the last decade and these events have raised global awareness for how oceanographic extremes and their drivers may alter ecological communities and human-ecosystem interactions.