Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2020-88
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2020-88

  28 Dec 2020

28 Dec 2020

Review status: a revised version of this preprint was accepted for the journal ESD and is expected to appear here in due course.

First Assessment of the Earth Heat Inventory Within CMIP5 Historical Simulations

Francisco José Cuesta-Valero1,2, Almudena García-García1,3, Hugo Beltrami1, and Joel Finnis4 Francisco José Cuesta-Valero et al.
  • 1Climate & Atmospheric Sciences Institute, St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, NS, Canada
  • 2Environmental Sciences Program, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, NL, Canada
  • 3Department of Remote Sensing, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research-UFZ, Leipzig, Germany
  • 4Department of Geography, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, NL, Canada

Abstract. The energy imbalance at the top of the atmosphere over the last century has caused an accumulation of heat within the ocean, the continental subsurface, the atmosphere and the cryosphere. Although ~90 % of the energy gained by the climate system has been stored in the ocean, the other components of the Earth heat inventory cannot be neglected due to their influence on associated climate processes dependent on heat storage, such as sea level rise and permafrost stability. However, there has not been a comprehensive assessment of the heat inventory within global climate simulations yet. Here, we explore the ability of thirty advanced General Circulation Models (GCMs) from the fifth phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) to simulate the distribution of heat within the Earth's energy reservoirs for the period 1972–2005 of the Common Era. CMIP5 GCMs simulate an average heat storage of 247 ± 172 ZJ (96 ± 4 % of total heat content) in the ocean, 5 ± 9 ZJ (2 ± 3 %) in the continental subsurface, 2 ± 3 ZJ (1 ± 1 %) in the cryosphere, and 2 ± 2 ZJ (1 ± 1 %) in the atmosphere. However, the CMIP5 ensemble overestimates the ocean heat content by 83 ZJ and underestimates the continental heat storage by 9 ZJ and the cryosphere heat content by 5 ZJ, in comparison with recent observations. The representation of terrestrial ice masses and the continental subsurface, as well as the response of each model to the external forcing, should be improved in order to obtain better representations of the Earth heat inventory and the partition of heat among climate subsystems in global transient climate simulations.

Francisco José Cuesta-Valero et al.

 
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Status: closed
Status: closed
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
Printer-friendly Version - Printer-friendly version Supplement - Supplement

Francisco José Cuesta-Valero et al.

Francisco José Cuesta-Valero et al.

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Short summary
The current radiative imbalance at the top of the atmosphere is increasing the heat stored in the oceans, atmosphere, continental subsurface, and cryosphere, with consequences for societies and ecosystems (e.g., sea level rise). We performed the first assessment of the ability of global climate models to represent such heat storage in the climate subsystems. Models are able to reproduce the observed atmosphere heat content, with biases in the simulation of heat content in the rest of components.
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