2018 WCRP workshop: The Earth’s Energy Imbalance and its implications (EEI)

Tuesday, November 13, 2018 to Friday, November 16, 2018
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WCRP workshop

“The Earth’s Energy Imbalance and its implications”

13 – 16 November 2018, Toulouse, France


The abstract submission is now open! Please submit your abstract(s) here before June 22.


Scientific Organization Team:
• Karina von Schuckmann, Mercator Ocean, France (local organiser)
• Remy Roca, LEGOS, France (local organiser)
• Tristan L’Ecuyer, University of Wisconsin, USA (local organiser)
• Benoit Meyssignac, LEGOS, France (local organiser)
• Boram Lee, WCRP, Switzerland
• Michael Sparrow, WCRP, Switzerland
• Gerhard Krinner, IGE, France (CliC)
• Detlef Stammer, University of Hamburg, Germany (CLIVAR SSG)
• Sonia Seneviratne, ETH, Switzerland (GEWEX SSG) / Jan Polcher (tbc)
• Graeme Stevens, JPL, USA (GEWEX SSG)
• Andrea K. Steiner, WEGC, University of Graz, Austria (SPARC)
• Kevin Trenberth, NCAR, USA
• Till Kuhlbrodt, NCAS, University of Reading, UK


  • 18. May 2018: Abstract submission open
  • 22. June 2018: Abstract submission closed
  • End of July 2018: Notification of authors

The Earth’s energy imbalance is a topic developed by the CLIVAR research focus “Consistency between planetary energy balance and ocean heat storage” (CONCEPT-HEAT) that has grown in scope to embrace the relevant activities of the WCRP Core Project, in particular GEWEX (https://www.wcrp-climate.org/learn-core-projects). CONCEPT-HEAT has been active for 4 years, and will declare success at the end of 2018, as the activity is expanded to become more WCRP-wide.

Goals, Objectives and Expected Outcome:
The main objective of the workshop is to initiate a new WCRP-wide activity and to thus strengthen and extend the community on the Earth’s energy imbalance through a community wide discussion on links across all the WCRP Core Projects and relevant activities. The expected outcome is to identify research goals and opportunities focused on the Earth’s energy imbalance, and synthesize the various aspects across WCRP, through:· Discussion and reporting on how the CONCEPT-HEAT topic could evolve into a WCRP topic, together with research goals and priorities.· Strengthening future international scientific collaborations with experts concerned with the flow of energy through the climate system, and its implications for climate variability on multiple time scales. ·Developing plans for future assessments of the Earth Energy Imbalance and its variability with the aim of documenting uncertainties, assessing their implications for prediction, and identifying future observational needs.·Developing a community paper on the Earth energy imbalance, or equivalent (e.g. a special issue).

Workshop Specifications:

The workshop will take place over 3.5 days. It is an open event for all experts of related fields; the expected maximum number of participants is about 80 persons. The program is organized under four sessions, which build on oral presentations (invited & abstract submissions) and posters. The first three sessions will additionally contain working topics - organized by solicited working group chairs - aiming to specifically define common future steps to advance in climate science. The work of these groups will contain:
  I. Smaller and separated working group discussions guided by a working group chair
 II. Common panel discussions, with group chairs as panel members, and session chairs as moderators.
More precisely, a set of overarching questions will be provided for each working group discussion (to be developed by the workshop scientific organizing team) to be addressed by split working group discussions. Each working group will be chaired by one expert, who will lead the discussion, and there will be a rapporteur. Working group chairs will build the plenary session aiming to guide consensus of the specific discussion. The last half-day will be reserved for the synthesis session 4 supported by the reporting from the different working group chairs, and informed by the scientific organizing team.

Program Overview


Session 1 – Global estimates of Earth’s Energy Imbalance
Topics include ocean heat content (OHC), land and cryosphere heat storage and energy balance, atmospheric heat storage and movement, Top of Atmosphere (TOA) net flux, ocean and land surface energy balance, and physical budget constraints on EEI. All topics include results from observations, reanalyses, and models. Discussions on the synthesis and EEI assessment activity are also included in this session, where future steps of these activities will be discussed. 
Working topic I: Improving estimates of the global Earth Energy Imbalance
  1. What are the main challenges to global Earth Energy Imbalance estimates?
  2. Which are the key scientific questions that will advance our understanding and improve the closure of the Earth Energy Budget?
  3. How could a global EEI assessment evolve and how should it be best organized?

Session 2 - Regional Energy Budgets and Energy Transports
This session is focused on quantifying energy and water balance over specific regions, including land, ocean, atmosphere and cryosphere on annual, interannual and longer time scales. The role of global scale climate modes such as ENSO (recharge-discharge model) and their impact on ocean heat content, sea level rise and global mean surface temperature for regional energy budget constraint approaches will be discussed. Application of closure constraints for increased knowledge on atmospheric and oceanic heat transport (e.g. AMOC) and structural biases in flux datasets are included in the discussion.  Cryosphere energy storage and balance, especially in the Arctic and Antarctic, will also be highlighted in this session, which will help to quantify how much energy has gone into melting ice and thawing permafrost.
Working topic II: “Global framework for regional water-energy budget constraints”.
  1. Which are the key regions for the evaluation of regional energy budget constraints?
  2. What are the key scientific questions and challenges for regional energy budget constraints?  What specific regions should be targeted?
  3. What precision is required to establish energy budget closure on regional scales and what scientific questions motivate these requirements?
  4. How should the regional Energy budget constraint method evolve and how should it be best organized?

Session 3 - Earth energy imbalance evaluation and budget closure for climate models and reanalyses
This session focuses on evaluating Earth’s energy imbalance and achieving budget closure in climate models and reanalyses. In particular, the conservation of heat in models will be discussed here, including neglected heat sources/sinks (e.g. iceberg melting). Implications of anomalous heat storage for climate projections, decadal prediction and seasonal forecast, including regional changes related to decadal climate variability and global teleconnections can be discussed in this session. The vertical distribution and the temporal evolution of ocean heat content in models are tackled in this session. This includes the comparison to observational data and suggestions to GCOS with regards to needs to better constrain the heat budget.
Working topic III: Conservation of heat in Earth system models and constraints from the Earth’s energy imbalance.
  1. What are the main challenges for conservation of heat in Earth system models?
  2. Which are the key scientific questions to advance our understanding and to obtain improvement of the Earth Energy Budget closure in Earth system models? Which underlying processes need to be better understood?
  3. Which are the scientific key recommendations to improve the evaluation and assessment of the Earth’s energy imbalance in Earth system models?

Session 4 -Wrap-up and way forward
The objective of this short session is to summarize the first 3 sessions outcome and initiate the discussions on the way to sustain a community activity on EEI, in phase with the strategy and implementation of the renewed WCRP.