The central role of the ocean for Earth’s climate, society and sustainable development

CMCC Webinar
December 18, 2020 – h. 03:00 pm CET

Karina von Schuckmann, Mercator Ocean international

Nadia Pinardi
, Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change Foundation


The ocean is a critical element of the Earth’s system. Particularly, the ocean covers 71% of Earth surface, has a huge capacity to store and release large amounts of heat, carbon and freshwater and other tracers, which are transported over large distances, and vertically into deep ocean layers. These fundamental characteristics and the oceans’ large volume make the ocean to be a fundamental player within the major Earth system cycles, and triggers Earth system inertia at climate relevant time scales. Moreover, the ocean is a major oxygen, biodiversity and freshwater reservoir, and provides a myriad of resources and ecosystem services to humanity. The ocean is thus critical for the transition into a sustainable future across the three pillars of sustainable development, i.e., environment, society and economy. This talk introduces the different aspects on the ocean’s role in the Earth system and for sustainable development, and specifically draws on its fundamental role in the Earth Energy Imbalance (EEI), which is the most critical number defining the prospects for continued global warming and climate change. Particularly, the talk will draw on the Earth heat inventory currently dominated by heat accumulation in the Earth system from a positive EEI driven by human activities, including methods, caveats and opportunities and implications in the Earth system. Moreover, this presentation aiming to discuss the importance of ocean data, science and services to inform policy, decision makers and stakeholders to support the achievement of the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, and to move to a sustainable ocean stewardship to create the ‘Future We Want’.

Karina’s short bio (webpage:

Karina is currently working at Mercator Ocean international as oceanographer specialized in ocean climate monitoring. In 2006 she received her Ph.D. in physical oceanography at the Christian Albrechts University in Kiel, Germany, after which she moved in 2007 to France working at several laboratories such as Ifremer, CNRS, and the Mediterranean Institute of Oceanography. In 2015 she moved to Mercator Ocean starting her current position. Her major field of expertise embraces the ocean’s role in climate change, particularly linked to the Earth energy imbalance, ocean warming and sea level rise. Since 2015, she is the principal chair of the Copernicus Marine Service Ocean State Report activity, which is now entering its 5th cycle. She is very active at international level, and has for example initiated and chaired the WCRP/CLIVAR research focus ‘CONCEPT-HEAT’ (Consistency between planetary energy balance and ocean heat storage), has initiated and chaired the recent international GCOS initiative on the Earth heat inventory, is member of the GOOS/OOPC, Member of the science committee of the International Space Science Institute, Lead Author of the IPCC Special Report on Ocean and Cryosphere, Lead Author in the IPCC AR6 assessment report (WG1), and contributes to the WMO annual statement of the climate. Since 2020 she is an elected member of the European Academy of Science.

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CMCC Foundation – Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change



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