Combining Modern and Paleoceanographic Perspectives on Ocean Heat Uptake. uri icon


  • Monitoring Earth's energy imbalance requires monitoring changes in the heat content of the ocean. Recent observational estimates indicate that ocean heat uptake is accelerating in the twenty-first century. Examination of estimates of ocean heat uptake over the industrial era, the Common Era of the last 2,000 years, and the period since the Last Glacial Maximum, 20,000 years ago, permits a wide perspective on modern-day warming rates. In addition, this longer-term focus illustrates how the dynamics of the deep ocean and the cryosphere were active in the past and are still active today. The large climatic shifts that started with the melting of the great ice sheets have involved significant ocean heat uptake that was sustained over centuries and millennia, and modern-ocean heat content changes are small by comparison.

publication date

  • January 2021