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Webinar: Improving Estimates for Earth’s Energy Imbalance

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Thursday, 09 February 2017, 2:00

Thursday, February 9, 2017. 2:00 PM. Webinar: Improving Estimates for Earth’s Energy Imbalance. Gregory C. Johnson, NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory. Sponsored by Atlantic Oceanographic & Meteorological Laboratory. More information here.


Earth has been gaining energy over recent decades. This energy gain is difficult to measure directly, being the small difference of absorbed incoming solar radiation and thermal infrared radiation emitted to space. With over 90% of this energy gain warming the oceans, the most accurate way to quantify it is to measure increases in ocean temperatures (along with the smaller contributions from the warming lithosphere, cryosphere, and atmosphere). In 2005 the international global Argo array of autonomous robotic profiling floats first achieved sparse near-global coverage of the upper half of the ocean volume. Combining the heat uptake in the upper half of the ocean volume from 2005 through 2015 from Argo with previously published estimates of heat uptake trends, mostly in the deep ocean, allows an estimate of the total heat uptake rate for Earth over that decade. This rate anchors a satellite-observed estimate from the Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES), which requires an in situ baseline. Year-to-year variations of upper ocean heat uptake and CERES energy imbalance are well correlated with each other and the Niño3.4 index over this time. This agreement between two completely independent and complementary measures of Earth’s energy imbalance bolsters confidence in each and provides insights into inter annual variation mechanisms.  The next biggest term and uncertainty in the global energy imbalance is deep ocean warming. Measurements there could be improved by implementing Deep Argo.

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