Earth’s Energy Imbalance and Energy Flows through the Climate System

Description:

Governments all over the world have recognized anthropogenic climate change as a major threat to our livelihoods, economy, and ecological treasures. Measuring Earth’s energy imbalance associated with greenhouse gas forcing of the Earth system is a fundamental aspect of tracking the rate of climate change. Understanding the changes and variability in flows of energy into and through the climate system represents a key challenge in advancing our knowledge of future climate change. The contributions in this special collection consolidate and advance the current knowledge on Earth’s energy imbalance and energy flows through the climate system through observational and modelling studies, including: intercomparisons of upper-ocean heat uptake in a multitude of data products; the introduction of Deep SOLO autonomous floats to measure the ocean’s temperature below 2000 meters depth; characterizing heat flows in the atmosphere and in the ocean; assessing regional energy budgets, such as for the Arctic; establishing linkages to the global water cycle; examining the role of cloud types on radiative effects; and utilizing spectral signatures to better understand the spatio-temporal variability in radiation fluxes at Earth’s surface and top of atmosphere. Research into Earth’s energy imbalance is an interdisciplinary research field, connecting the different components of our climate system with phenomena that act on numerous timescales and have direct consequences for global and regional sea level, surface temperatures, weather patterns, and the potential for dramatic future impacts on the habitability of our planet. This special collection is one of the outcomes of the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) workshop The Earth’s Energy Imbalance and its implications held in Toulouse, France, in November 2018. The WCRP has identified the improved quantification and understanding of Earth’s energy imbalance and its spatio-temporal variability to be major challenges in contemporary climate research across disciplines and provides a strong motivation for this special collection.

Collection organizers:
Maria Hakuba, Jet Propulsion Laboratory/Caltech
Matt Palmer, Met Office Hadley Centre and University of Bristol
Seiji Kato, NASA Langley Research Center

Earth’s Energy Imbalance and Energy Flows through the Climate System

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Dean Roemmich
,
Jeffrey T. Sherman
,
Russ E. Davis
,
Kyle Grindley
,
Michael McClune
,
Charles J. Parker
,
David N. Black
,
Nathalie Zilberman
,
Sarah G. Purkey
,
Philip J. H. Sutton
, and
John Gilson

Abstract

Deployment of Deep Argo regional pilot arrays is underway as a step toward a global array of 1250 surface-to-bottom profiling floats embedded in the upper-ocean (2000 m) Argo Program. Of the 80 active Deep Argo floats as of July 2019, 55 are Deep Sounding Oceanographic Lagrangian Observer (SOLO) 6000-m instruments, and the rest are composed of three additional models profiling to either 4000 or 6000 m. Early success of the Deep SOLO is owed partly to its evolution from the Core Argo SOLO-II. Here, Deep SOLO design choices are described, including the spherical glass pressure housing, the hydraulics system, and the passive bottom detection system. Operation of Deep SOLO is flexible, with the mission parameters being adjustable from shore via Iridium communications. Long lifetime is a key element in sustaining a global array, and Deep SOLO combines a long battery life of over 200 cycles to 6000 m with robust operation and a low failure rate. The scientific value of Deep SOLO is illustrated, including examples of its ability (i) to observe large-scale spatial and temporal variability in deep ocean temperature and salinity, (ii) to sample newly formed water masses year-round and within a few meters of the sea floor, and (iii) to explore the poorly known abyssal velocity field and deep circulation of the World Ocean. Deep SOLO’s full-depth range and its potential for global coverage are critical attributes for complementing the Core Argo Program and achieving these objectives.

Open access