First Assessment of Continental Energy Storage in CMIP5 Simulations


Although much of the energy gained by the climate system over the last century has been stored in the oceans, continental energy storage remains important to estimate the Earth’s energy imbalance and also because crucial positive climate feedback processes such as soil carbon and permafrost stability depend on continental energy storage. Here for the first time, 32 general circulation model simulations from the fifth phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) are examined to assess their ability to characterize the continental energy storage. Results display a consistently lower magnitude of continental energy storage in CMIP5 simulations than the estimates from geothermal data. A large range in heat storage is present across the model ensemble, which is largely explained by the substantial differences in the bottom boundary depths used in each land surface component.

Geophysical Research Letters