For nearly two decades, scientists have used a network of floats distributed throughout the ocean to constantly monitor water temperatures worldwide. But before the early 2000s, when the network was launched, scientists mainly relied on measurements taken from passing ships as they made their way across the seas. This meant ocean temperature observations, worldwide, were sparser and that scientists had to use statistical methods or models to fill in the gaps.
In recent years, improved data from the float network and improvements in the models and statistical tools used to analyze previous measurements have helped scientists develop more accurate reconstructions of ocean warming over the past century.
As the new review reports, multiple studies now agree that the oceans are warming at a faster rate than older estimates suggested. And these revised calculations also match up better with climate model simulations than previous estimates, giving scientists more confidence that model projections for the future are on track.