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Title: Chapter 5: Trends in the Physical and Chemical State of the Ocean
Keynote points • Thermal expansion from a warming ocean and land ice melt are the main causes of the accelerating global rise in the mean sea level. • Global warming is also affecting many circulation systems. The Atlantic meridional overturning circulation has already weakened and will most likely continue to do so in the future. The impacts of ocean circulation changes include a regional rise in sea levels, changes in the nutrient distribution and carbon uptake of the ocean and feedbacks with the atmosphere, such as altering the distribution of precipitation. • More than 90 per cent of the heat from global warming is stored in the global ocean. Oceans have exhibited robust warming since the 1950s from the surface to a depth of 2,000 m. The proportion of ocean heat content has more than doubled since the 1990s compared with long-term trends. Ocean warming can be seen in most of the global ocean, with a few regions exhibiting long-term cooling. • The ocean shows a marked pattern of salinity changes in multidecadal observations, with surface and subsurface patterns providing clear evidence of a water cycle amplification over the ocean. That is manifested in enhanced salinities in the near-surface, high-salinity subtropical regions and freshening in the low-salinity regions such as the West Pacific Warm Pool and the poles. • An increase in atmospheric CO2 levels, and a subsequent increase in carbon in the oceans, has changed the chemistry of the oceans to include changes to pH and aragonite saturation. A more carbon-enriched marine environment, especially when coupled with other environmental stressors, has been demonstrated through field studies and experiments to have negative impacts on a wide range of organisms, in particular those that form calcium carbonate shells, and alter biodiversity and ecosystem structure. • Decades of oxygen observations allow for robust trend analyses. Long-term measurements have shown decreases in dissolved oxygen concentrations for most ocean regions and the expansion of oxygen-depleted zones. A temperature-driven solubility decrease is responsible for most near-surface oxygen loss, though oxygen decrease is not limited to the upper ocean and is present throughout the water column in many areas. • Total sea ice extent has been declining rapidly in the Arctic, but trends are insignificant in the Antarctic. In the Arctic, the summer trends are most striking in the Pacific sector of the Arctic Ocean, while, in the Antarctic, the summer trends show increases in the Weddell Sea and decreases in the West Antarctic sector of the Southern Ocean. Variations in sea ice extent result from changes in wind and ocean currents.  more » « less
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Journal Name:
The Second World Ocean Assessment
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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