Heat stored in the Earth system: where does the energy go?

Type Article
Date 2020-09
Language English
Author(s) von Schuckmann Karina1, Cheng Lijing2, 28, Palmer Matthew D.3, Hansen James4, Tassone Caterina5, Aich Valentin5, Adusumilli Susheel6, Beltrami Hugo7, Boyer Tim8, Cuesta-Valero Francisco José7, 27, Desbruyères DamienORCID9, Domingues Catia10, 11, García-García Almudena7, Gentine Pierre12, Gilson John13, Gorfer Maximilian14, Haimberger Leopold15, Ishii Masayoshi16, Johnson Gregory C.17, Killick Rachel3, King Brian A.10, Kirchengast Gottfried14, Kolodziejczyk NicolasORCID18, Lyman John17, Marzeion Ben19, Mayer Michael15, 29, Monier Maeva20, Monselesan Didier Paolo21, Purkey Sarah6, Roemmich Dean6, Schweiger Axel22, Seneviratne Sonia I.23, Shepherd Andrew24, Slater Donald A.6, Steiner Andrea K.14, Straneo Fiammetta6, Timmermans Mary-Louise25, Wijffels Susan E.21, 26
Affiliation(s) 1 : Mercator Ocean International, Ramonville St.-Agne, France
2 : Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
3 : Met Office Hadley Centre, Exeter, UK
4 : Columbia University Earth Institute, New York, USA
5 : WMO/GCOS, Geneva, Switzerland
6 : Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego, San Diego, California, USA
7 : Climate and Atmospheric Sciences Institute, St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada
8 : NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information, Silver Spring, Maryland, USA
9 : Ifremer, University of Brest, CNRS, IRD, Laboratoire d'Océanographie Physique et Spatiale, Brest, France
10 : National Oceanographic Centre, Southampton, UK
11 : ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
12 : Earth and Environmental Engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA
13 : SCRIPPS Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA
14 : Wegener Center for Climate and Global Change and Institute of Physics, University of Graz, Graz, Austria
15 : Department of Meteorology and Geophysics, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
16 : Department of Atmosphere, Ocean and Earth System Modeling Research, Meteorological Research Institute, Nagamine, Tsukuba, Japan
17 : NOAA, Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, Seattle, USA
18 : University of Brest, CNRS, IRD, Ifremer, Laboratoire d'Océanographie Physique et Spatiale, IUEM, Brest, France
19 : Institute of Geography and MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany
20 : CELAD/Mercator Ocean International, Ramonville-Saint-Agne, France
21 : CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
22 : Polar Science Center, Applied Physics Laboratory, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA
23 : Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, ETH Zurich, Zürich, Switzerland
24 : Center for Polar Observation and Modeling, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
25 : Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA
26 : Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts, USA
27 : Environmental Sciences Program, Memorial University of Newfoundland, NL, Canada
28 : Center for Ocean Mega-Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Qingdao, 266071, China
29 : European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, Reading, UK
Source Earth System Science Data (1866-3508) (Copernicus GmbH), 2020-09 , Vol. 12 , N. 3 , P. 2013-2041
DOI 10.5194/essd-12-2013-2020
WOS© Times Cited 146

Human-induced atmospheric composition changes cause a radiative imbalance at the top of the atmosphere which is driving global warming. This Earth energy imbalance (EEI) is the most critical number defining the prospects for continued global warming and climate change. Understanding the heat gain of the Earth system – and particularly how much and where the heat is distributed – is fundamental to understanding how this affects warming ocean, atmosphere and land; rising surface temperature; sea level; and loss of grounded and floating ice, which are fundamental concerns for society. This study is a Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) concerted international effort to update the Earth heat inventory and presents an updated assessment of ocean warming estimates as well as new and updated estimates of heat gain in the atmosphere, cryosphere and land over the period 1960–2018. The study obtains a consistent long-term Earth system heat gain over the period 1971–2018, with a total heat gain of 358±37 ZJ, which is equivalent to a global heating rate of 0.47±0.1 W m−2. Over the period 1971–2018 (2010–2018), the majority of heat gain is reported for the global ocean with 89 % (90 %), with 52 % for both periods in the upper 700 m depth, 28 % (30 %) for the 700–2000 m depth layer and 9 % (8 %) below 2000 m depth. Heat gain over land amounts to 6 % (5 %) over these periods, 4 % (3 %) is available for the melting of grounded and floating ice, and 1 % (2 %) is available for atmospheric warming. Our results also show that EEI is not only continuing, but also increasing: the EEI amounts to 0.87±0.12 W m−2 during 2010–2018. Stabilization of climate, the goal of the universally agreed United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1992 and the Paris Agreement in 2015, requires that EEI be reduced to approximately zero to achieve Earth's system quasi-equilibrium. The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere would need to be reduced from 410 to 353 ppm to increase heat radiation to space by 0.87 W m−2, bringing Earth back towards energy balance. This simple number, EEI, is the most fundamental metric that the scientific community and public must be aware of as the measure of how well the world is doing in the task of bringing climate change under control, and we call for an implementation of the EEI into the global stocktake based on best available science. Continued quantification and reduced uncertainties in the Earth heat inventory can be best achieved through the maintenance of the current global climate observing system, its extension into areas of gaps in the sampling, and the establishment of an international framework for concerted multidisciplinary research of the Earth heat inventory as presented in this study. This Earth heat inventory is published at the German Climate Computing Centre (DKRZ, https://www.dkrz.de/, last access: 7 August 2020) under the DOI https://doi.org/10.26050/WDCC/GCOS_EHI_EXP_v2 (von Schuckmann et al., 2020).

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von Schuckmann Karina, Cheng Lijing, Palmer Matthew D., Hansen James, Tassone Caterina, Aich Valentin, Adusumilli Susheel, Beltrami Hugo, Boyer Tim, Cuesta-Valero Francisco José, Desbruyères Damien, Domingues Catia, García-García Almudena, Gentine Pierre, Gilson John, Gorfer Maximilian, Haimberger Leopold, Ishii Masayoshi, Johnson Gregory C., Killick Rachel, King Brian A., Kirchengast Gottfried, Kolodziejczyk Nicolas, Lyman John, Marzeion Ben, Mayer Michael, Monier Maeva, Monselesan Didier Paolo, Purkey Sarah, Roemmich Dean, Schweiger Axel, Seneviratne Sonia I., Shepherd Andrew, Slater Donald A., Steiner Andrea K., Straneo Fiammetta, Timmermans Mary-Louise, Wijffels Susan E. (2020). Heat stored in the Earth system: where does the energy go? Earth System Science Data, 12(3), 2013-2041. Publisher's official version : https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-12-2013-2020 , Open Access version : https://archimer.ifremer.fr/doc/00648/76036/