Oceans control and
warm the atmosphere

Dr. Arnd Bernaerts
3 min readMar 15, 2021


It is that easy! Global mean temperatures are always forced by changes in heat release and heat uptake by the oceans. That is the core message of an essay by Professor Sybren Drijfhout from Southhampton University: The relation between natural variations in ocean heat uptake and global mean surface temperature anomalies in CMIP5 ; in NATURE, 2018* , assuming that : “New research has shown that natural variations in global mean temperature are always forced by changes in heat release and heat uptake by the oceans, in particular the heat release associated with evaporation.

However, big reservations need to be made. It is inacceptable that it is far away to explain the role of the global oceans in global warming and cooling matters. Instead it is merely talking about models, models and more models. But models can only be of help if the physical mechanism behind the weather and climate system is understood. For that it is necessary to mention that the oceanic heat content is 1000-times bigger that of the air and has only an average temperature of mere plus 4° Celsius. It is furthermore helpful to acknowledge that water vapor concentration is determined by processes independent of CO2 abundance (see Fig.)

Talking about the warming of the oceans, should not only be subject to computer simulation, but should consider possible causes. The amount of water in the atmosphere is equal to the amount contained in the top three meters of the oceans. This thin ocean surface-layer is what matters for weather making most, and abundantly affected by human activities at sea. Shipping, fishing, and off-shore facilities have a huge impact on the sea surface temperature (SST). All screw driven vessels and boats are likely to turn over the upper sea-level down to 15 meter depth many dozen million miles across the oceans every day. This is a huge potential for warming the oceans. Since motor ships cross the seas, the global temperatures are on the rise.

As Professor Sybren Drijfhout research is confined to shown that in all cases variations in global mean temperature were correlated with variations in heat release by sensible and latent heat; it will be still a long way to understand the human contribution on ocean warming. It sounds even naive when he says “these variations are associated with heat transfer due to temperature differences between the surface ocean and the overlying air, and heat transfer associated with evaporation. The heat fluxes are also called the turbulent heat fluxes.” More in a press-release.

It looks like climate research still has a long way to go before properly assessing the dangers of man-made climate change.