The role of the ocean in climate change

Temperature and currents at 450 metres depth in the high resolution Kiel ocean model. (Instantaneous values). Source: A. Biastoch, GEOMAR.

The oceans play a central role in global change processes.Major aspects of climate change are associated with the ocean’s heat transport, heat capacity, and the global water cycle. However, oceanic storage, transformation, transport and exchange of radiatively and chemically active gases and particles also exert an influence on climate through their impact on atmospheric radiation transfer. Past climate change has had demonstrable influences on the isotopic and chemical composition of seawater, which permits these signals to be investigated as potential recorders of change. Since exchanges of heat and substances between the ocean, land and the atmosphere operate on time scales ranging from seasons to millennia, they are amongst the most important factors for shaping future global climate change.

Research topics under this headline include:

  • Understanding of Past, Present and Future Overturning Circulation Changes
  • Changes in the Tropics
  • Present and Past Arctic Oceanography and Climate
  • Future Greenhouse Warming: Assessment and Scenarios
  • Past Geochemical Change in the Oceans




News for topic: the role of the ocean in climate change

Massive coralline alga, Clathromorphum nereostratum, endemic to the Aleutian Islands and Bering Sea with associated green sea urchins, Strongylocentrotus polyacanthus. Photo taken by Joe Tomoleoni as part of NSF PLR-1316141, PI: Bob S. Steneck, Univ. of Maine

Via Laser into the Past of the Oceans

GEOMAR researchers reconstruct pH values for the past 120 years in the North Pacific

The Sahara is one of the most arid regions in the world. 9000 years ago, it was a green savannah. Details on the transition could now be reconstructed from samples obtained off the the mouth of the river Nile in the Mediterranean (yellow dot). Image Reproduced from the GEBCO world map 2014,

Rapid end of the Green Sahara 8000 years ago

Scientists discover possible link between climate change and human sedentarization

Scheme of the tropical Pacific: Strong growth of plankton (1) leads to a high oxygen consumption and extended oxygen minimum zones (2). Ocean currents (3) at a few hundred meters depth provide an influx of oxygenated water from the subtropics (4). Fluctuations of the trade winds (5) influence the strength of these currents. Graphics: Claus Böning, Markus Scheinert, GEOMAR

Trade Winds ventilate the Tropical Oceans

Kiel marine scientists find explanation for increasing oxygen deficiency