Research Article

Earth's Energy Imbalance: Confirmation and Implications

Science  03 Jun 2005:
Vol. 308, Issue 5727, pp. 1431-1435
DOI: 10.1126/science.1110252

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Abstract

Our 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.

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