Earth's Energy Imbalance: Confirmation and Implications

Edited: 2011-02-21
TitleEarth's Energy Imbalance: Confirmation and Implications
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2005
AuthorsHansen, J. E., L. Nazarenko, R. Ruedy, M. Sato, J. K. Willis, A. Del Genio, D. Koch, A. Lacis, K. Lo, S. Menon, T. Novakov, J. Perlwitz, G. L. Russell, G. A. Schmidt, and N. Tausnev
Date Published06/2005
Keywordsclimate, ice, sea_level
AbstractOur climate model, driven mainly by increasing human-made greenhouse gases and aerosols, among other forcings, calculates that Earth is now absorbing 0.85 +/- 0.15 watts per square meter more energy from the Sun than it is emitting to space. This imbalance is confirmed by precise measurements of increasing ocean heat content over the past 10 years. Implications include (i) the expectation of additional global warming of about 0.6°C without further change of atmospheric composition; (ii) the confirmation of the climate system's lag in responding to forcings, implying the need for anticipatory actions to avoid any specified level of climate change; and (iii) the likelihood of acceleration of ice sheet disintegration and sea level rise.