How the Climate System Works

2013 continued a trend of water vapor in the surface atmosphere increasing over land and ocean relative to the 1970s, while the atmosphere over land becomes less saturated. 

March 2011

  • The ocean is the largest solar energy collector on Earth. More than 90 percent of the warming that has happened on Earth over the past 50 years has occurred in the ocean. Not all of that heating is detectable at the surface because currents move some of the heat to deeper layers of water, where it can "hide" for years or decades.