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Climate monitoring of the oceans and sea-ice

Arctic sea ice extent for the 1981-2010 median (grey shading), 2012 (blue) and 2016 (red) during September.

Observations of ocean temperature, both at and below the surface; salinity, and sea-ice cover are used to provide advice on global climate variability and change.

The oceans have a crucial role in the climate system owing to their ability to store and transport heat and to impart moisture and heat to the atmosphere. The temperature of the oceans and the amount of sea-ice are, therefore, important indicators of changes to the climate system. Observations of the oceans and sea-ice are also necessary for evaluation of climate models and to provide constraints to re-analyses of the climate system.

In this area of work, observational datasets, which may be in the form of point observations or gridded maps and analyses, are used to monitor the state of the oceans and sea-ice. Datasets that cover long periods are used to understand how the ocean and sea-ice have varied over time. This information is published in international journals, provided as advice to Government and disseminated to the public.

Key aims

  • Monitor variability and changes in ocean climate and communicate the results.
  • Provide advice to Government, the media and others.
  • Assist others in using and interpreting the information.

Current activities

Monitoring and analysis of:

  • ocean surface temperature;
  • sea-ice;
  • ocean subsurface temperature and salinity.

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