Planetary heat balance and ocean heat storage

About Us

Climate dynamics is very much about exchanges of energy in the Earth System, in particular in the form of heat. An ongoing accounting of where heat goes and its manifestations is a great need and has implications for interpreting the recent past and immediate future. Large uncertainties challenge our ability to infer these changes. Improving the accuracy of our estimates of Earth’s climate state and variability will improve knowledge and understanding of the climate system. This in turn will be translated into improved climate assessments and more reliable climate models, synthesizing the observations, performing attribution of what is happening and why, and in making predictions and projections on all space and time scales. 

Terms Of Reference

The overall goal of the "Consistency between planetary energy balance and ocean heat storage" (CONCEPT-HEAT) Research Focus is to bring together seven climate research communities all concerned with the energy flows in the Earth’s System to advance on the understanding of the uncertainties through budget constraints:

  • Atmospheric radiation
  • Air-sea-fluxes
  • Ocean Heat Content
  • Ocean reanalysis
  • Atmospheric reanalyses and NWP
  • Climate models
  • Global sea level

This CLIVAR research focus has the main objective to build up a pluri-disciplinary synergy community for climate research aiming to work on two different issues:

1)  Quantify Earth’s energy imbalance, the ocean heat budget, and atmosphere-ocean turbulent and radiative heat fluxes, their observational uncertainty, and their variability for a range of time and space scales using different observing strategies (e.g., in-situ ocean, satellite), reanalysis systems, and climate models.

2)  Analyze the consistency between the satellite-based planetary heat balance and ocean heat storage estimates, using data sets and information products from global observing systems (remote sensing and in situ) and ocean reanalysis, and compare these results to outputs from climate models to obtain validation requirements (for model and observations).


Title Institute Role Year Country
Tristan L'Ecuyer University of Wisconsin-Madison Co-Chair USA
Karina von Schuckmann Mercator-Ocean Co-Chair France
Kevin Trenberth NCAR Member USA
Carol Anne Clayson WHOI Member USA
Catia Domingues IMAS/ACE-CRC Member Australia
Sergey Gulev IORAS Member Russian Federation
Keith Haines University of Reading Member UK
Norman Loeb NASA Member USA
Matt Palmer MetOffice Member UK
Martin Wild ETH Member Switzerland
Pierre-Philippe Mathieu ESA Member Italy
Bob Weller WHOI Member USA
Yan Xue NOAA/NCEP Member USA

The ICPO contact for the CONCEPT-HEAT Research Focus is Jose Santos.