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Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-2019-255
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-2019-255
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: review article 20 Mar 2020

Submitted as: review article | 20 Mar 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal ESSD.

Heat stored in the Earth system: Where does the energy go? The GCOS Earth heat inventory team

Karina von Schuckmann1, Lijing Cheng2, Matthew D. Palmer3, Caterina Tassone4, Valentin Aich4, Susheel Adusumilli5, Hugo Beltrami6, Tim Boyer7, Francisco José Cuesta-Valero6, Damien Desbruyères8, Catia Domingues9,10, Almudena García-García6, Pierre Gentine11, John Gilson12, Maximilian Gorfer13, Leopold Haimberger14, Masayoshi Ishii15, Gregory C. Johnson16, Rachel Killik3, Brian A. King9, Gottfried Kirchengast13, Nicolas Kolodziejczyk17, John Lyman15, Ben Marzeion18, Michael Mayer14, Maeva Monier19, Didier Paolo Monselesan20, Sarah Purkey5, Dean Roemmich5, Axel Schweiger21, Sonia I. Seneviratne22, Andrew Shepherd23, Donald A. Slater5, Andrea K. Steiner13, Fiammetta Straneo5, Mary-Louise Timmermans24, and Susan E. Wijffels20,25 Karina von Schuckmann et al.
  • 1Mercator Ocean International, France
  • 2Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China
  • 3Met Office Hadley Centre, UK
  • 4WMO/GCOS, Switzerland
  • 5Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD, USA
  • 6Climate and Atmospheric Sciences Institute, and Environmental Sciences Program, St. Francis Xavier University, Canada
  • 7NOAA's National Centers for EnvironmentalInformation
  • 8University of Brest, CNRS, IRD, Ifremer, IUEM, France
  • 9National Oceanographic Centre, UK
  • 10ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
  • 11Earth and Environmental Engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Columbia University, USA
  • 12University of California, USA
  • 13Wegener Center for Climate and Global Change, University of Graz, Austria
  • 14Institute of Meteorology and Geophysics, University of Vienna, Austria
  • 15Department of Atmosphere, Ocean and Earth System Modeling Research, Meteorological Research Institute, Japan
  • 16NOAA, Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, USA
  • 17Ifremer, University of Brest, CNRS, IRD, Laboratoire d’Océanographie Physique et Spatiale, IUEM, France
  • 18Institute of Geography, University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany
  • 19CELAD/Mercator Ocean International, France
  • 20CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
  • 21Applied Physics Laboratory, University of Washington, Seattle, USA
  • 22Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, ETH, Switzerland
  • 23Center for Polar Observation and Modeling, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
  • 24Department of Geology and Geophysics, Yale University, New Haven, USA
  • 25Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts, USA

Abstract. Human-induced atmospheric composition changes cause a radiative imbalance at the top-of-atmosphere which is driving global warming. This Earth Energy Imbalance (EEI) is a fundamental metric of climate change. Understanding the heat gain of the Earth system from this accumulated heat – and particularly how much and where the heat is distributed in the Earth system – is fundamental to understanding how this affects warming oceans, atmosphere and land, rising temperatures and 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 international assessment of ocean warming estimates, and 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 past 58 years, with a total heat gain of 393 ± 40 ZJ, which is equivalent to a heating rate of 0.42 ± 0.04 W m−2. The majority of the heat gain (89 %) takes place in the global ocean (0–700 m: 53 %; 700–2000 m: 28 %; > 2000 m: 8 %), while it amounts to 6 % for the land heat gain, to 4 % available for the melting of grounded and floating ice, and to 1 % for atmospheric warming. These new estimates indicate a larger contribution of land and ice heat gain (10 % in total) compared to previous estimates (7 %). There is a regime shift of the Earth heat inventory over the past 2 decades, which appears to be predominantly driven by heat sequestration into the deeper layers of the global ocean, and a doubling of heat gain in the atmosphere. However, a major challenge is to reduce uncertainties in the Earth heat inventory, which can be best achieved through the maintenance of the current global climate observing system, its extension into areas of gaps in the sampling, as well as to establish an international framework for concerted multi-disciplinary research of the Earth heat inventory. Earth heat inventory is published at DKRZ (https://www.dkrz.de/) under the doi: https://doi.org/10.26050/WDCC/GCOS_EHI_EXP (von Schuckmann et al., 2020).

Karina von Schuckmann et al.

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Karina von Schuckmann et al.

Data sets

Heat stored in the Earth system: Where does the energy go? (GCOS_EHI_EXP) K. von Schuckmann, L. Cheng, M. D. Palmer, C. Tassone, V. Aich, S. Adusumilli, H. Beltrami, T. Boyer, F. J. Cuesta-Valero, D. Desbruyeres, C. Domingues, A. García-García, P. Gentine, J. Gilson, M. Gorfer, L. Haimberger, M. Ishii, , G. C. Johnson, R. Killick, B. A. King, G. Kirchengast, N. Kolodziejczyk, J. Lyman, B. Marzeion, M. Mayer, M. Monier, D. P. Monselesan, S. Purkey, D. Roemmich, A. Schweiger, S. I. Seneviratne, A. Shepherd, D. A. Slater, A. K. Steiner, F. Straneo, M.-L. Timmermanns, and S. E. Wijffels https://doi.org/10.26050/WDCC/GCOS_EHI_EXP

Karina von Schuckmann et al.

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Short summary
Understanding how much and where the heat is distributed in the Earth system is fundamental to understanding how this affects warming oceans, atmosphere and land, rising temperatures and 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 over the period 1960–2018.
Understanding how much and where the heat is distributed in the Earth system is fundamental to...
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