The ocean plays a major role in regulating climate by storing and transferring heat around the globe, absorbing carbon dioxide, and influencing cloud cover and precipitation. The burning of fossil fuels is causing excessive amounts of carbon dioxide to accumulate and trap excess heat in the Earth system, resulting in climate change. Ocean warming dominates the energy stored in the Earth system in the last 40-50 years and accounts for approximately 93% of the excess heat accumulated between 1971 and 2010. This warming has a direct impact on the ocean and is projected to create critical hazards for many ocean ecosystems and coastal communities by causing sea level rise, thermal stress and oxygen loss.
Sustained ocean observations are key to understanding the ocean’s role in climate and predicting regional and global climate. Data and information from ocean observations is and will continue to play a major role in manager and policy maker decisions on how to respond to and and mitigating global climate change.