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Climate change induced by human activity will impact the oceans in unprecedented ways. Interactions among ocean basins are also expected to change, and much effort will be required to better understand and predict these changes. This chapter starts by an overview about projected changes in processes participating in ocean interactions and mentioned in previous chapters. The overview starts with the intensity and frequency of the Pacific and Atlantic Niños. This is followed by a review of decadal climate modes in the Pacific and other basins, as well as past climate shifts in the Pacific. The following two sections discuss the ocean’s thermohaline circulation, its projected changes, and its potential collapse. The last section addresses present-day and future global mean sea level rise and its geographical variations due to ocean warming and land ice loss (from glaciers, Greenland, and Antarctica).
Measuring sea level rise and understanding its causes have improved in recent years, essentially because new in situ and remote sensing observations have become available. Sea level is presently rising at a sustained rate and will continue in the future decades because of expected increased global warming, thereby affecting a large number of the world’s largest coastal cities. Sea level observations are treated as arising from three primary components: ocean thermal expansion, land ice melt, and land water storage changes. By closing the sea level budget based on comparisons between observed sea level change and the sum of contributions from the various components, it is possible to estimate sea level rise for the end of the twenty-first century