SFU Faculty of Science: Global Warming Seminar Series "The Role of the Oceans in Climate"

Wednesday, March 9, 2011
12:30 - 13:30

Dr. Kevin Trenberth
Senior Scientist and Head of the ClimNational Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado.


The Role of the Oceans in Climate:

A description of the role of the various components of the climate system (the atmosphere, ocean, land and ice) in climate variability and change highlights the heat capacity of the oceans and the dynamics of the atmosphere and the ocean. The ocean also plays a major role in the water cycle as seen through changes in salinity and fresh water (salt) transports by currents. Melting land ice contributes to sea level rise and so does ocean expansion. The overall flow of energy through the climate system and its uptake by the oceans in summer and discharge in winter will be discussed along with ocean and atmospheric heat (energy) transports. The role of the ocean in climate change and issues related to understanding the heat budget from 2003 to 2008, when there was a stasis in warming at the surface, will be discussed. Uncertainties in observations limit the ability to fully understand the changing climate and where heat goes within the ocean before re-emerging to further change the climate.