Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Current Locations of the Net Energy Gain by the Earth over the Past 40 Years

Between 1971 and 2010, the Earth net-gained 274 ZJ (zettajoule; 1021 joules) of energy. How big is 274 ZJ? According to BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2013, the global total primary energy consumption in 2012 was about 12476.6 mtoe (million tonnes of oil equivalent). It is equivalent of 0.52237 ZJ. In just 40 years, the planetary energy imbalance has accumulated some energy that exceeds 500 years' global primary energy consumption at the year 2012 level.

Then what is the fate of the increased energy in the Earth? To answer the question, I looked up the latest assessment report of the IPCC's Working Group I. Using their analysis results, I have drawn a figure below.

Yes, out of the net energy gained by the Earth,

93% have warmed the oceans,
 3% have melted ice (Arctic sea ice, ice sheets and glaciers),
 3% have warmed the continents, and
 1% have warmed the atmosphere.

The same IPCC report has a figure of the energy accumulation in different parts of the earth over the peroid, too. See the figure below.

Figure. Plot of energy accumulation within distinct components of the Earth’s climate system relative to 1971 and from 1971 to 2010 Source: IPCC (2013, p. 264)

IPCC. (2013). Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.  [Full-text at http://j.mp/WG1AR5]

Pictures in the figure from:
Wikimedia Commons (Ocean; Ice; Continent; Atmosphere)

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