This indicator describes trends in the amount of heat stored in the world’s oceans.
This indicator shows trends in global ocean heat content from 1955 to 2015. These data are available for the top 700 meters of the ocean (nearly 2,300 feet), which accounts for just under 20 percent of the total volume of water in the world’s oceans. The indicator measures ocean heat content in joules, which are units of energy.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has calculated changes in ocean heat content based on measurements of ocean temperatures around the world at different depths. These measurements come from a variety of instruments deployed from ships and airplanes and, more recently, underwater robots. Thus, the data must be carefully adjusted to account for differences among measurement techniques and data collection programs. Figure 1 shows three independent interpretations of essentially the same underlying data.