Effects of bottom boundary placement on subsurface heat storage: Implications for climate model simulations

Stevens, M. Bruce; Smerdon, Jason E.; González-Rouco, Jesús Fidel; Stieglitz, Marc; Beltrami, Hugo

A one-dimensional soil model is used to estimate the influence of the position of the bottom boundary condition on heat storage calculations in land-surface components of General Circulation Models (GCMs). It is shown that shallow boundary conditions reduce the capacity of the global continental subsurface to store heat by as much as 1.0 x 10²³ Joules during a 110-year simulation with a 10 m bottom boundary. The calculations are relevant for GCM projections that employ land-surface components with shallow bottom boundary conditions, typically ranging between 3 to 10 m. These shallow boundary conditions preclude a large amount of heat from being stored in the terrestrial subsurface, possibly allocating heat to other parts of the simulated climate system. The results show that climate models of any complexity should consider the potential for subsurface heat storage whenever choosing a bottom boundary condition in simulations of future climate change.


Also Published In

Geophysical Research Letters

More About This Work

Academic Units
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Ocean and Climate Physics
American Geophysical Union
Published Here
August 24, 2011