Upper ocean warming pattern in the past 50 years

Sayaka Yasunaka, Masahide Kimoto

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1 Citation (Scopus)


A long-term warming pattern of global subsurface ocean was detected separately from other natural variations. Three dominant modes were extracted: a long-term warming mode, a mode related to the El Niño/Southern Oscillation, and a mode related to the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation. The long-term warming mode explained 78 % of the global mean temperature variance from the surface to a depth of 300 m, and the other two modes could explain most of the residual variance. Subsurface warming associated with the long-term warming mode was strong in the subtropics. In contrast, there was a local minimum of warming in the northern hemisphere subarctic ocean, and warming was suppressed in subsurface waters south of the equator. Atmospheric changes associated with the long-term warming mode showed negative (positive) sea level pressure anomalies at high (middle) latitudes in both hemispheres, and an intensification and/or a poleward expansion of mid-latitude westerlies. Wind stress curl changes were negative in the subtropics and positive in the subarctic of the northern hemisphere; changes that were consistent with the strong warming in the subtropics and the local minimum of warming in the subarctic. Warming of Southern Ocean subsurface waters coincided with southward migration and intensification of westerly winds, whereas surface warming to the south of 50°S was suppressed, probably by strengthened northward Ekman transport. Positive wind stress curl off the equator with weakening of the tropical easterly winds in the Pacific and Indian Oceans was consistent with the subsurface negative temperature anomaly there.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-95
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Oceanography
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Feb
Externally publishedYes


  • Climate change
  • Global mean ocean temperature
  • Global warming
  • Ocean subsurface temperature
  • Warming pattern

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography


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