Quantifying human contributions to past and future ocean warming and thermosteric sea level rise

Katarzyna B. Tokarska, Gabriele Hegerl, Andrew Schurer, Aurélien Ribes, John T. Fasullo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


More than 90% of the Earth’s energy imbalance is stored by the ocean. While previous studies have shown that changes in the ocean warming are detectable and distinct from internal
variability of the climate system, an estimate of separate contributions by natural and individual anthropogenic forcings (such as greenhouse gases and aerosols) remains
outstanding. Here we investigate anthropogenic and greenhouse-gas contributions to past ocean warming, and estimate their contributions to future sea level rise by the year 2100. By
applying detection and attribution framework (regularized optimal fingerprinting), we show that ocean warming in the historical period is detectable and attributable to contributions
from the aggregate anthropogenic forcing as well as greenhouse gas forcing alone. We also discuss the role of natural forcing on the ocean volume-averaged temperature and examine
the impact of volcanic activity from the three main volcanoes occurring in the historical period 1955-2012. Our results suggest that estimated anthropogenic and greenhouse-gas
contributions to ocean warming are consistent with observations, and observationallyconstrained future thermosteric sea level rise projections support the central and lower part of the multi-model mean projection range distribution.
Original languageEnglish
Article number074020
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jul 2019


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