The ocean's role in setting Earth’s climate

Ocean-Atmosphere and ocean-sea-ice coupling play a key role in Earth's climate. By modulating surface properties, the atmospheric response to both natural and anthropogenic forcing drives changes in the thermodynamic and dynamic states of the ocean. In return, these oceanic changes further alter the surface properties, which feed back to the atmosphere. The slower response of the ocean, relative to the atmosphere, adds an additional interesting temporal effect, which is crucial for elucidating and detecting the emergence of climate signals. Despite decades of effort, a quantitative assessment of the ocean's role in shaping Earth's past, present and future climates is still missing. Using ensembles of model integrations, we address this fundamental open problem, and aim to develop a mechanistic understanding of the ocean's climatic impacts on interannual to centennial time-scales.