Oceans and climate

The upper few metres of the ocean contain the same amount of heat as the entire atmosphere. The oceans therefore act as a giant heat reservoir and significant changes in the amount they store can only occur over hundreds of years. Ocean currents also transport heat within and between the major ocean basins. Thus, oceans moderate climatic changes as well as playing an important role in driving climate change. Our oceans are warming and hence expanding in volume, and this is contributing to the observed increase in global mean sea level of about 3mm per year.

In July 2011 the Royal Research Ship James Cook whilst on a mission to the Porcupine Abyssal Plain (PAP) in the Atlantic Ocean undertook a full service of the Met Office ODAS (Ocean Data Acquisition System) buoy at the PAP I site.   On...
The rate of future sea-level rise is a major uncertainty in predicting the consequences of human-driven global warming.  Recent NOC/University of Southampton studies show that under past conditions similar to today, natural sea level increase...
The movements of carbon dioxide, other greenhouse gases and heat across the ocean surface are affected by the weather and in turn influence our climate.  NOC scientists have achieved a technological breakthrough in measuring these fluxes at...
Scientists surveying the Arctic seabed, to estimate how much of the greenhouse gas methane might be released by climate warming, believe the process has already started.  Using sonar, researchers from Birmingham University, NOC, and Royal...
Uncertainty over the rate of sea level rise is a serious issue for the world’s coastal states. The contribution to sea level rise from the Antarctic ice sheet is relatively small at present (~10%), but there has been recent acceleration of...

Information for…


The outputs of research generate new knowledge about the oceans. Transferring scientific knowledge to support business and industry is an important part of our NOC remit.



Our research is intended to tackle the big environmental issues facing the world. Research priorities will include the oceans' role in climate change, sea level change and the future of the Arctic Ocean.



The University of Southampton and the University of Liverpool both offer a range of highly regarded undergraduate and post-graduate degrees in Ocean and Earth Science.



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Delivery Partners

Delivery Partners helping to provide marine science national capability.


Marine Science Community

The creation of a wider association of Universities and research institutions to support wider engagement of the NOC with the marine science community is now underway.



The National Oceanographic Library is a national resource for the UK marine science community.


Principal scientists

All updated information for cruise participants can be found using the Marine Facilities Planning website: