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

17 April 2023

Earth System Science Data, a prominent open-access journal of Copernicus Publications, announces with pleasure the second version of Heat stored in the Earth system 1960–2020: where does the energy go? As our "out-of-balance" Earth accumulates more energy than it loses, this international, multidisciplinary effort addresses the questions of by how much and where. These researchers (nearly 70 from dozens of institutes across 15 countries) use carefully calibrated, cross-checked, and well-documented data from the ocean, land, ice, and atmosphere to conclude the following:

  • Earth has accumulated nearly 0.5 W (0.48 + 0.1 W) over every square meter of its surface over the past 50 years (since 1971).
  • More recently (2006 to 2020), heating increased to more than 0.75 W (0.76 + 0.2 W) m–2.
  • Most heat entered the ocean (89 %).
  • Remaining heat went into land (6 %), ice (4 %), and the atmosphere (1 %).
  • Assessment of energy gained and disbursed represents a fundamental metric of changing global climate with implications for the ocean, land, ice, and atmosphere.
  • Efforts such as these require sustained international cooperation on monitoring and research.

The authors describe data, data sources, compilations, and analyses in their most recent ESSD article. Interested readers can find all data and follow all steps, freely and without restriction, via ESSD and the included links.

For further information please contact lead author Karina von Schuckmann, ESSD chief editor David Carlson, or Copernicus Publications.

Heat stored in the Earth system 1960–2020: where does the energy go?
Karina von Schuckmann, Audrey Minière, Flora Gues, Francisco José Cuesta-Valero, Gottfried Kirchengast, Susheel Adusumilli, Fiammetta Straneo, Michaël Ablain, Richard P. Allan, Paul M. Barker, Hugo Beltrami, Alejandro Blazquez, Tim Boyer, Lijing Cheng, John Church, Damien Desbruyeres, Han Dolman, Catia M. Domingues, Almudena García-García, Donata Giglio, John E. Gilson, Maximilian Gorfer, Leopold Haimberger, Maria Z. Hakuba, Stefan Hendricks, Shigeki Hosoda, Gregory C. Johnson, Rachel Killick, Brian King, Nicolas Kolodziejczyk, Anton Korosov, Gerhard Krinner, Mikael Kuusela, Felix W. Landerer, Moritz Langer, Thomas Lavergne, Isobel Lawrence, Yuehua Li, John Lyman, Florence Marti, Ben Marzeion, Michael Mayer, Andrew H. MacDougall, Trevor McDougall, Didier Paolo Monselesan, Jan Nitzbon, Inès Otosaka, Jian Peng, Sarah Purkey, Dean Roemmich, Kanako Sato, Katsunari Sato, Abhishek Savita, Axel Schweiger, Andrew Shepherd, Sonia I. Seneviratne, Leon Simons, Donald A. Slater, Thomas Slater, Andrea K. Steiner, Toshio Suga, Tanguy Szekely, Wim Thiery, Mary-Louise Timmermans, Inne Vanderkelen, Susan E. Wjiffels, Tonghua Wu, and Michael Zemp
Earth Syst. Sci. Data, 15, 1675–1709, https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-15-1675-2023, 2023

Contact: Karina von Schuckmann (karina.von.schuckmann@mercator-ocean.fr)