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

The Irminger Sea seen from the research vessel MARIA S. MERIAN. It is one of the few regions in the world where deep convection occurs. The process is a key component global ocean circulation system. Photo: Arne Bendinger / GEOMAR

Warm summers could weaken ocean circulation

Long-term observations reveal the influence of increased surface freshening on convection in the subpolar North Atlantic

Bathymetric map of the Nyegga region off the coast of Central Norway. Graphic: Jens Karstens / GEOMAR

Why did gas hydrates melt at the end of the last ice age?

GEOMAR researchers find links between sedimentation and methane seeps on the seafloor off the coast of Norway

Launch of a CTD System to collect water samples. The Collaborative Research Center 754 has been intensively studying the oxygen minimum zones in the tropical Atlantic and Pacific since 2008. Photo: Martina Lohmann, GEOMAR.

Oxygen depletion in the ocean is increasing

Science study reveals risks, but also suggests solutions