Deep ocean warming-induced irreversible climate changes

Seminar by Prof. Jong-Seong Kug from Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH)

01 June 2023
KST 14:00 – 15:00

The Seminar is being held in Room 1010 (Jasmin) – Integrated mechanical engineering building. Click here for the campus map.

The global deep oceans serve as a huge heat buffer to absorb the surplus heat from the Earth’s ocean surface warming caused by the persistent emission of anthropogenic greenhouse gases.  When anthropogenic greenhouse gases will be stabilized or reduced as humanity tries to mitigate global warming, how this massive accumulated heat in the ocean interior shall affect the Earth’s climate remains to be better understood.  We demonstrate that this stored heat will be released at much a slower rate than its accumulation to yield multi-century irreversible deep ocean warming and consequent regional irreversibility in the sea surface temperature (SST) and precipitation.  The irreversible SST changes are pronounced over subpolar-to-polar regions and the equatorial eastern Pacific.  Such a unique SST pattern is associated with ocean static stability. That is, strong irreversible SST warming mostly takes place at high latitudes where oceans are weakly stratified to allow vigorous vertical heat release from the deep oceans to the surface. We also demonstrated that the irreversible precipitation pattern can be largely explained by the deep ocean-induced SST pattern. Our study suggests that deep ocean warming may hinder our climate recovery with a significant and specific climate change pattern, even though carbon neutrality or net negative emission shall be successfully achieved.