Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 31 Issue 02

View Issue TOC
Volume 31, No. 2
Pages 28 - 31

FROM THE GUEST EDITORS • Introduction to the Special Issue on Ocean Warming

Paul J. Durack Alex Sen GuptaLars H. Smedsrud
First Paragraph

With atmospheric CO2 levels rising unabated, the climate system is warming at the fastest rate in human history. It has long been known that the vast bulk of extra heat associated with anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions is entering the ocean (e.g., Hansen et al., 1988; Levitus et al., 2000; Barnett et al., 2005), causing warming at the surface and through much of the ocean’s depth. This warming drives thermal expansion of the ocean that, together with added mass from rapidly melting glaciers and ice sheets, is accelerating the rise in sea levels (Church et al., 2013). As the mean state of the ocean changes, so do its extremes. Marine heatwaves are becoming more frequent and more intense (e.g., Oliver et al., 2018; Hobday et al.), and increasing sea levels are resulting in more damage from storms in coastal regions (e.g., Hauer, 2017). In addition, marine species are being significantly affected, with populations moving poleward to escape the heat (e.g., Sorte et al., 2010), loss of key habitat-forming species (e.g., Wernberg, 2013, 2016), and mass bleaching and mortality of coral reefs (e.g., Hughes, 2017). Simultaneously, more intense hurricanes, destructive wildfires, and severe droughts have been occurring across the global terrestrial landscape.


Durack, P.J., A. Sen Gupta, and L.H. Smedsrud. 2018. Introduction to the special issue on ocean warming. Oceanography 31(2):28–31, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2018.226.


Barnett, T.P., D.W. Pierce, K.M. AchutaRao, P.J. Gleckler, B.D. Santer, J.M. Gregory, and W.M. Washington. 2005. Penetration of human-​induced warming in the world’s oceans. Science 309:(5732):284–287, https://doi.org/​10.1126/science.1112418.

Church, J.A., P.U. Clark, A. Cazenave, J.M. Gregory, S. Jevrejeva, A. Levermann, M.A. Merrifield, G.A. Milne, R.S. Nerem, P.D. Nunn, and others. 2013. Sea level change. Pp. 1,137–1,216 in Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. T.F. Stocker, D. Qin, G.-K. Plattner, M. Tignor, S.K. Allen, J. Boschung, A. Nauels, Y. Xia, V. Bex, and P.M. Midgley, eds, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom, and New York, NY, USA, https://doi.org/​10.1017/CBO9781107415324.026.

Hansen, J., I. Fung, A. Lacis, D. Rind, S. Lebedeff, R. Ruedy, G. Russell, and P. Stone. 1988. Global climate changes as forecast by Goddard Institute for Space Studies three-dimensional model. Journal of Geophysical Research 93(D8):9,341–9,364, https://doi.org/​10.1029/JD093iD08p09341.

Hauer, M.E. 2017. Migration induced by sea-level rise could reshape the US population landscape. Nature Climate Change 7(5):321–325, https://doi.org/​10.1038/nclimate3271.

Hughes, T.P., J.T. Kerry, M. Álvarez-Noriega, J.G. Álvarez-Romero, K.D. Anderson, A.H. Baird, R.C. Babcock, M. Beger, D.R. Bellwood, R. Berkelmans, and others. 2017. Global warming and recurrent mass bleaching of corals. Nature 543:373–377, https://doi.org/10.1038/nature21707.

Levitus, S., J.I. Antonov, T.P. Boyer, and C. Stephens. 2000. Warming of the world ocean. Science 287(5461):2,225–2,229. https://doi.org/​10.1126/science.287.5461.2225.

Oliver, E.C.J., M.G. Donat, M.T. Burrows, P.J. Moore, D.A. Smale, L.V. Alexander, J.A. Benthuysen, M. Feng, A. Sen Gupta, A.J. Hobday, and others. 2018. Longer and more frequent marine heatwaves over the past century. Nature Communications 9(1):1324, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-018-03732-9.

Sorte, C.J.B., S.L. Williams, and J.T. Carlton. 2010. Marine range shifts and species introductions: Comparative spread rates and community impacts. Global Ecology and Biogeography 19(3):303–316, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1466-8238.2009.00519.x.

Wernberg, T., D.A. Smale, F. Tuya, M.S. Thomsen, T.J. Langlois, T. de Bettignies, S. Bennett, and C.S. Rousseaux. 2013. An extreme climatic event alters marine ecosystem structure in a global biodiversity hotspot. Nature Climate Change 3(1):78–82, https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate1627.

Wernberg, T., S. Bennett, R.C. Babcock, T. de Bettignies, K. Cure, M. Depczynski, F. Dufois, J. Fromont, C.J. Fulton, R.K. Hovey, and others. 2016. Climate-driven regime shift of a temperate marine ecosystem. Science 353(6295):169–172, https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aad8745.