Dr. Arnd Bernaerts
3 min readNov 22, 2020


Are Oceans Warming?

That is a good question! Quite a while ago Willis Eschenbach raised it at WUWT: are “Oceans Warming” ( Ref.1- below) A convincing answer would be invaluable. For years a lot of opinions swirl around. Prof. R. Pielke Sr (2008) regards „monitoring of global average ocean heat content as the appropriate metric to assess global warming.” Ref.2 The IPCC-2007 assumes a warming of the upper sea level 0 to 700 meters, Ref.3, claiming that “Approximately 7.9 million temperature profiles were used”. Is that a lot? Definitely not, as only three cubic-meters of water have the same heat capacity as an air-column of 1x1x10’000meter. The number of data required would go into billions. The Ocean is huge, deep and cold. An image from the Atlantic may serve as illustration. It seems Willis Eschenbach recognizes rightly when he concludes his essay:

“We can say nothing about whether the ocean
might be warming, cooling, or standing still.

Are we better informed in 2020? No! To get an idea read the next paragraph: The oceans have stripes”.

Links to References:
1___http://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/06/06/can-we-tell-if-the-oceans-are-warming/ 2___https://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2010/09/12/a-short-explanantion-of-why-the-monitoring-of-global-average-ocean-heat-content-is-the-appropriate-metric-to-assess-global-warming-2/
3___ https://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch5s5-2-2.html

The oceans have stripes

A paper by Ethan Gutmann (2008) (Ref.4 below) explains:
“These stripes are not visible without looking very closely, but they are visible through their effect on currents, temperatures, and sea surface heights. They were first spotted in a careful analysis of the Mean Dynamic Ocean Topography (MDOT) dataset, but had to be confirmed by looking directly at ocean buoy and vertical temperature profile data”. Further details (selection):

· The stripes have velocities around 1–1.5cm/s,

· Most changes in sea surface height, velocity, and temperature occur over thousands of kilometers.

· These stripes are interesting for a number of other reasons. For one thing, they persist to at least 700 meters deep…

· the velocity within the stripes does not always follow the orientation of the stripes.

These stripes are a mystery. An even bigger mystery is any claim of knowing that the ocean are warming, cooling, or standing still.

4___Ethan Gutmann (2008) http://arstechnica.com/science/2008/04/a-striped-ocean-hiding-in-plain-sight/

In Conclusion:

“We can say nothing about whether the ocean
might be warming, cooling, or standing still.

Whether the see surface of a few meter, or few dozen meter is warming, is a different matter, and is meanwhile fairly well observed via satellite and documented. Sea surface temperature warming may have several causes, for example, human activities at sea, as shipping and fishing. But talking about the entire oceans, one has to recognize their vastness und temperature, which is merely about +4°Celsius.