Physical oceanography articles within Nature


  • Article |

    Analysis of more than 236,000 observations of glacier terminus positions shows that accelerated calving reduced the ice area of Greenland by about 5,000 km2 since 1985, producing over 1,000 Gt of freshwater that could influence ocean salinity and circulation.

    • Chad A. Greene
    • , Alex S. Gardner
    •  & Joshua K. Cuzzone
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Analysis of climate models under future greenhouse-gas forcings shows that the frequency of consecutive La Niña events will increase, driven by ocean–atmosphere feedbacks that slow the heat recharge of the equatorial Pacific.

    • Tao Geng
    • , Fan Jia
    •  & Michael J. McPhaden
  • Article
    | Open Access

    A simple model describes the stochastic process of dynamic sea ice thickening, shows how reduced residence time affects changes in ice thickness and highlights the enduring impact of climate change on the Arctic Ocean.

    • Hiroshi Sumata
    • , Laura de Steur
    •  & Sebastian Gerland
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Despite observations from a hot-water-drilled access hole showing warm ocean waters beneath Thwaites Glacier Eastern Ice Shelf, the basal melt rate is strongly suppressed due to the low current speeds and strong density stratification.

    • Peter E. D. Davis
    • , Keith W. Nicholls
    •  & Keith Makinson
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Thwaites Eastern Ice Shelf observations from a new underwater vehicle show that high melt rates occur where ice is sharply sloped at the ocean interface, with lower melt where the ice is comparatively flat.

    • B. E. Schmidt
    • , P. Washam
    •  & K. Makinson
  • Article |

    Data from multiple satellite sensors show that Antarctica lost almost 37,000 km2 of ice-shelf area from 1997 to 2021, and that calving losses are as important as ice-shelf thinning.

    • Chad A. Greene
    • , Alex S. Gardner
    •  & Alexander D. Fraser
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Climate forecast systems are used to develop and evaluate global predictions of marine heatwaves (MHWs), highlighting the feasibility of predicting MHWs and providing a foundation for operational MHW forecasts to support climate adaptation and resilience.

    • Michael G. Jacox
    • , Michael A. Alexander
    •  & Desiree Tommasi
  • Article |

    Analysis of tide gauge observations shows that, in contrast to the current assumption of stationary storm surge extremes in Europe, the surge contribution to changes in extreme sea levels since 1960 is similar to that of sea-level rise, influencing future coastal planning.

    • Francisco M. Calafat
    • , Thomas Wahl
    •  & Sarah N. Sparrow
  • Article |

    A study uses a temperature-percentile water mass framework to analyse warm-to-cold poleward transport of freshwater in the Earth system, and establishes a constraint to help address biases in climate models.

    • Taimoor Sohail
    • , Jan D. Zika
    •  & John A. Church
  • Article |

    New proxy data for ocean pH and an ocean–atmosphere model show that a radically different ocean circulation led to decoupling of ocean productivity and upwelling in the equatorial Pacific Ocean 3–6 million years ago.

    • Madison G. Shankle
    • , Natalie J. Burls
    •  & Pincelli M. Hull
  • Article |

    Observed global-mean sea-level rise since 1900 is reconciled with estimates based on the contributing processes, revealing budget closure within uncertainties and showing ice-mass loss from glaciers as a dominant contributor.

    • Thomas Frederikse
    • , Felix Landerer
    •  & Yun-Hao Wu
  • Article |

    Ocean heatwaves displace surface isotherms by tens to thousands of kilometres—comparable to shifts associated with long-term warming trends—potentially driving rapid redistributions of marine species.

    • Michael G. Jacox
    • , Michael A. Alexander
    •  & James D. Scott
  • Letter |

    Using phreatic overgrowths on speleothems, sea level during the mid-Piacenzian Warm Period, which was about two to three degrees Celsius warmer than the pre-industrial period, is shown to have been about 16 metres higher than today.

    • Oana A. Dumitru
    • , Jacqueline Austermann
    •  & Bogdan P. Onac
  • Letter |

    Vertical motions of Earth’s crust had the greatest effect on regional spatial differences in relative sea-level trends along the eastern coast of the USA during 1900–2017, explaining most of the large-scale spatial variance in regional rates of sea-level rise.

    • Christopher G. Piecuch
    • , Peter Huybers
    •  & Martin P. Tingley
  • Article |

    Accounting for meltwater from the Antarctic Ice Sheet in simulations of global climate leads to substantial changes in future climate projections and identifies a potential feedback mechanism that exacerbates melting.

    • Ben Bronselaer
    • , Michael Winton
    •  & Joellen L. Russell
  • Letter |

    Satellite observations and Earth system model simulations reveal that marine heatwaves have increased in recent decades and will increase further in terms of frequency, intensity, duration and spatial extent.

    • Thomas L. Frölicher
    • , Erich M. Fischer
    •  & Nicolas Gruber
  • Review Article |

    Our current understanding of the spatio-temporal complexity of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation phenomenon is reviewed and a unifying framework that identifies the key factors for this complexity is proposed.

    • Axel Timmermann
    • , Soon-Il An
    •  & Xuebin Zhang
  • Review Article |

    This paper discusses how Antarctic ice has changed over recent decades, and how these changes have been recorded in satellite observations.

    • Andrew Shepherd
    • , Helen Amanda Fricker
    •  & Sinead Louise Farrell
  • Article |

    A characteristic ‘fingerprint’ of sea-surface temperatures suggests that the Atlantic overturning circulation has slowed substantially since the mid-twentieth century, as predicted by climate models in response to increasing carbon dioxide emissions.

    • L. Caesar
    • , S. Rahmstorf
    •  & V. Saba
  • Article |

    Noble gases trapped in ice cores are used to show that the mean global ocean temperature increased by 2.6 degrees Celsius over the last glacial transition and is closely correlated with Antarctic temperature.

    • Bernhard Bereiter
    • , Sarah Shackleton
    •  & Jeff Severinghaus
  • Letter |

    In coupled climate model simulations the strength of major oceanic fronts associated with western boundary currents—tremendous conveyors of ocean heat towards the poles—is systematically underestimated, but this can be addressed by resolving not only ocean mesoscale eddies but, more importantly, their feedback with the atmosphere.

    • Xiaohui Ma
    • , Zhao Jing
    •  & Lixin Wu
  • Brief Communications Arising |

    • F.-F. Jin
    • , J. Boucharel
    •  & I.-I. Lin
  • Review Article |

    A review of western boundary currents in the Pacific Ocean explores their far-reaching influence on the El Niño/Southern Oscillation, the Indonesian Throughflow, Asian monsoons, and ocean circulation in the South China Sea, and concludes that major conceptual and technical progress will be needed to close the regional mass budget and provide robust projections of Pacific western boundary currents in a changing climate.

    • Dunxin Hu
    • , Lixin Wu
    •  & William S. Kessler
  • Letter |

    The circulation of the North Atlantic Ocean, interpreted via the sea level gradient along the US coast, is found to respond to atmospheric drivers from the North Atlantic Oscillation, and in turn influences the oceanic temperature changes characterized by Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation; in this way, ocean circulation acts as the intermediary between atmospheric and ocean oscillations.

    • Gerard D. McCarthy
    • , Ivan D. Haigh
    •  & David A. Smeed
  • Letter |

    Internal oceanic waves are subsurface gravity waves that can be enormous and travel thousands of kilometres before breaking but they are difficult to study; here observations of such waves in the South China Sea reveal their formation mechanism, extreme turbulence, relationship to the Kuroshio Current and energy budget.

    • Matthew H. Alford
    • , Thomas Peacock
    •  & Tswen-Yung (David) Tang