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Continental Energy Storage in CMIP5 Climate Change Simulations

Paper Reviewed
Cuesta-Valero, F.J., Garcia-Garcia, A., Beltrami, H. and Smerdon, J.E. 2016. First assessment of continental energy storage in CMIP5 simulations. Geophysical Research Letters 43: 5326-5335.

For the very first time, in the words of Cuesta-Valero et al. (2016), 32 general circulation model simulations from the fifth phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) were "examined to assess their ability to characterize continental energy storage." And what did they learn by so doing?

The four Canadian researchers write that their results (1) "display a consistently lower magnitude of continental energy storage in CMIP5 simulations than the estimates from geothermal data," and that (2) "a large range in heat storage is present across the model ensemble," which is (3) "largely explained by the substantial differences in the bottom boundary depths used in each land surface component." And they add that (4) "this clearly indicates a first-order thermal coupling between the lower atmosphere and the ground," which is (5) "in agreement with the analysis of Garcia-Garcia et al. (2016) for the five CMIP5/PMIP3 last millennium simulations used herein."

Last of all, therefore, Cuesta-Valero et al. complete their paper by noting that the principal disagreement between the General Circulation Models and observation-based estimates of heat storage in the continental subsurface reflects the fact that (6) "the current generation of GCMs does not represent well the continental component of heat storage in the Earth's energy budget," which is a climate model short-coming that has yet to be overcome.

Garcia-Garcia, A., Cuesta-Valero, F.J., Beltrami, H. and Smerdon, J.E. 2016. Simulation of air and ground temperatures in PIMIP3/CMIP5 last millennium simulation: implications for climate reconstructions from borehole temperature profiles. Environmental Research Letters 11: doi:10.1088/1748-9326/11/4/044022.

Posted 27 October 2016