The oceans have a huge thermal mass compared to the atmosphere and land surface. They act as the planet’s heat storage and transportation system, as the ocean currents redistribute the heat. This is important because if we look at the global surface temperature as an indication of warming, we’re only getting some of the picture. The oceans act as a huge storage heater, and will continue to warm up the lower atmosphere (no matter what changes we make to the atmosphere in the future).

Climate Facts

John Carlosbaez

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Energy absorbed by the Earth 1970-2010 - Most of the heat is going into the oceans
As a result of the increase in atmospheric CO2, the Earth has been absorbing an excess of about 8 zeta joules of energy/year (the equivalent of a 50 megaton nuclear bomb being exploded every 15 minutes), with almost all of the energy going in to warming the oceans.