Heat stored in the Earth system 1960--2020: where does the energy go?

Global Heat Budget

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The Earth climate system is out of energy balance, and heat has accumulated continuously over the past decades, warming the ocean, the land, the cryosphere, and the atmosphere. According to the Sixth Assessment Report by Working Group I of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, this planetary warming over multiple decades is human-driven and results in unprecedented and committed changes to the Earth system, with adverse impacts for ecosystems and human systems. The Earth heat inventory provides a measure of the Earth energy imbalance (EEI) and allows for quantifying how much heat has accumulated in the Earth system, as well as where the heat is stored. Here we show that the Earth system has continued to accumulate heat, with 381±61 ZJ accumulated from 1971 to 2020. This is equivalent to a heating rate (i.e., the EEI) of 0.48±0.1 W m−2. The majority, about 89 %, of this heat is stored in the ocean, followed by about 6 % on land, 1 % in the atmosphere, and about 4 % available for melting the cryosphere. Over the most recent period (2006–2020), the EEI amounts to 0.76±0.2 W m−2. The Earth energy imbalance is the most fundamental global climate indicator that the scientific community and the public can use as the measure of how well the world is doing in the task of bringing anthropogenic climate change under control. Moreover, this indicator is highly complementary to other established ones like global mean surface temperature as it represents a robust measure of the rate of climate change and its future commitment. We call for an implementation of the Earth energy imbalance into the Paris Agreement's Global Stocktake based on best available science. The Earth heat inventory in this study, updated from von Schuckmann et al. (2020), is underpinned by worldwide multidisciplinary collaboration and demonstrates the critical importance of concerted international efforts for climate change monitoring and community-based recommendations and we also call for urgently needed actions for enabling continuity, archiving, rescuing, and calibrating efforts to assure improved and long-term monitoring capacity of the global climate observing system. The data for the Earth heat inventory are publicly available, and more details are provided in Table 4.
Originele taal-2English
Pagina's (van-tot)1675-1709
Aantal pagina's35
Nummer van het tijdschrift4
StatusPublished - 17 apr 2023

Bibliografische nota

Funding Information:
Richard P. Allan is funded by the National Centre for Earth Observation (Research Councils UK) (grant NE/RO16518/1).

Funding Information:
Felix W. Landerer and Maria Z. Hakuba were supported by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (80NM0018D0004).

Funding Information:
Maximilian Gorfer was supported by WEGC atmospheric remote sensing and climate system research group young scientist funds. Michael Mayer was supported by the Austrian Science Fund (project P33177).

Funding Information:
Axel Schweiger was supported by NSF Grant NSF-OPP-1744587 and NASA Grant 80NSSC20K1253.

Funding Information:
Lijing Cheng was financial supported by the Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (XDB42040402) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant numbers 42122046, 42076202).

Funding Information:
Hugo Beltrami was supported by grants from the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Discovery Grant (NSERC DG 140576948) and the Canada Research Chairs Program (CRC 230687). Hugo Beltrami holds a Canada Research Chair in Climate Dynamics.

Funding Information:
Rachel Killick was supported by the Met Office Hadley Centre Climate Programme funded by BEIS.

Funding Information:
John Church and Yuehua Li were supported by the Centre for Southern Hemisphere Oceans Research (CSHOR), jointly funded by the Qingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology (QNLM, China) and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO, Australia), and the Australian Research Council's Discovery Project funding scheme (project DP190101173) and the Australian Research Council Special Research Initiative, Australian Centre for Excellence in Antarctic Science (Project Number SR200100008). TMcD and PMB gratefully acknowledge Australian Research Council support through grant FL150100090. This paper contributes to the tasks of the Joint SCOR/IAPSO/IAPWS Committee on the Thermophysical Properties of Seawater.

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