New publication: Surface flux and ocean heat transport convergence contributions to seasonal and interannual variations of ocean heat content

Monday, February 6th, 2017

Fig 10: Dominant drivers of heat content variability in the upper ocean mixed layer (Hmld) and total ocean column (Htot )

The ocean plays a crucial role in the global energy budget as it is Earth’s primary heat reservoir on climate-relevant time scales. As such, variations in ocean heat content play a fundamental role in global and regional climate variability and the transient response to climate. In addition, ocean heat uptake is one of the major contributors to past, and predicted future, changes in global sea level due to the thermal expansion of seawater.

This new study, published in Journal of Geophysical Research – Oceans, presents an observation-based analysis of seasonal and interannual ocean heat budgets and evaluates the dominant drivers of heat content in the upper ocean mixed layer (Hmld) and and for the total ocean column (Htot ) for the period 1985–2012. Four surface heat flux products were combined and two ocean heat content products using a novel Kalman smoother-based method and the regional contributions from ocean heat transport convergences were  inferred as a residual.

The study concluded that ocean dynamics play an active role in the generation of Hmld anomalies on interannual time scales, except in selected regions of the high latitudes and subtropical oceans where forcing from local air-sea fluxes dominates.

The full, open-access article can be accessed here:
Surface flux and ocean heat transport convergence contributions to seasonal and interannual variations of ocean heat content
Authors: C. D. Roberts, M. D. Palmer, R. P. Allan, D.G. Desbruyeres, P. Hyder, C. Liu, D. Smith