Quantification of ocean heat uptake from changes in atmospheric O-2 and CO2 composition

Type Article
Date 2019-12
Language English
Author(s) Resplandy L.1, 2, Keeling R. F.3, Eddebbar Y.3, Brooks M.3, Wang R.4, Bopp L.5, Long Mc6, Dunne J. P.7, Koeve W.8, Oschlies A.8
Affiliation(s) 1 : Princeton Univ, Dept Geosci, Princeton, NJ 08544 USA.
2 : Princeton Univ, Princeton Environm Inst, Princeton, NJ 08544 USA.
3 : Univ Calif San Diego, Scripps Inst Oceanog, La Jolla, CA 92093 USA.
4 : Fudan Univ, Dept Environm Sci & Engn, Shanghai 200433, Peoples R China.
5 : Ecole Normale Super, Lab Meteorol Dynam, Inst Pierre Simon Laplace, CNRS ENS X UPMC,Dept Geosci, Paris, France.
6 : Natl Ctr Atmospher Res, POB 3000, Boulder, CO 80307 USA.
7 : NOAA, Geophys Fluid Dynam Lab, Princeton, NJ USA.
8 : GEOMAR Helmholtz Ctr Ocean Res, Kiel, Germany.
Source Scientific Reports (2045-2322) (Nature Publishing Group), 2019-12 , Vol. 9 , P. 20244 (10p.)
DOI 10.1038/s41598-019-56490-z
WOS© Times Cited 17

The ocean is the main source of thermal inertia in the climate system. Ocean heat uptake during recent decades has been quantified using ocean temperature measurements. However, these estimates all use the same imperfect ocean dataset and share additional uncertainty due to sparse coverage, especially before 2007. Here, we provide an independent estimate by using measurements of atmospheric oxygen (O-2) and carbon dioxide (CO2) - levels of which increase as the ocean warms and releases gases - as a whole ocean thermometer. We show that the ocean gained 1.29 +/- 0.79 x 10(22) Joules of heat per year between 1991 and 2016, equivalent to a planetary energy imbalance of 0.80 +/- 0.49W watts per square metre of Earth's surface. We also find that the ocean-warming effect that led to the outgassing of O-2 and CO2 can be isolated from the direct effects of anthropogenic emissions and CO2 sinks. Our result - which relies on high-precision O-2 atmospheric measurements dating back to 1991 - leverages an integrative Earth system approach and provides much needed independent confirmation of heat uptake estimated from ocean data.

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