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Project Reference

Name Ocean Heat Flux

Title Ocean Heat Flux

Thematic Area Ocean


Action Line International Scientific Cooperation

Status In Progress

Project Description


Climate is very much about exchanges of energy in the Earth System, and in particular in the form of heat. Quantifying these exchanges, and in particular how much extra heat has been generated by human activities, and how it affects our climate system is one of the key challenges faced by the climate research community. The global ocean plays a critical role in regulating these energy flows, being by far the most important heat reservoir due to its enormous heat storage and transport capacity. Over the last 50 years, it is estimated that a large share (about 90%) of the extra human-induced heat has penetrated the ocean through net surface heat fluxes, leading to an observed increase of the Ocean Heat Content (OHC). In this context, the WCRP CLIVAR has recently established a new research opportunity on “Consistency between Planetary Heat Balance and Ocean Heat Storage”. The main objective of the CLIVAR cross-cutting activity is to understand better the “role of the ocean energy uptake” by analyzing consistency of heat budget components as seen by independent global observing systems, including (i) Earth Observation (EO) satellite data, (ii) in-situ measurements of ocean heat content storage changes, and (iii) Ocean reanalysis for heat transports and exchanges. Each of these independent approaches has its own advantages and drawbacks in terms of sampling capability and accuracy, leading to different estimates, and associated uncertainties of budget imbalance. Reconciling these different estimates to close the energy budget is a key emerging research topic in climate science. To address the EO component of the CLIVAR research opportunity, the “Ocean Heat Flux” project in supporting CLIVAR fostering the use of EO data and products, in particular from ESA EO missions to generate a new set of ocean heat flux products in support of the CLIVAR research opportunity. This project focuses on evaluating and improving the turbulent component of the Net Heat Flux, taking its radiative components as given (along with their uncertainties). A key element of the “evaluation” of these data sets is a new “regional” approach using heat budget constraints in some suitable “reference” areas, either at the basin, regional or even global scale. This approach would extend the traditional concept of “super-site” to the new concept of “super-regions” for flux calibration, validation and evaluation.

Project Consortium

Project Partners IFREMER : Institut Francais pour la Recherche et l'Exploitation de la MER(Prime contractor)
DWD : Deutscher Wetterdienst(Subcontractor)
NERSC : Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center (Subcontractor)
PML : Plymouth Marine Laboratory(Subcontractor)
MIO : Institut Méditerranéen d’Océanologie(Subcontractor)

Contact Points

Project Manager

Technical Officer


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