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Global Heat Uptake by Inland Waters

Vanderkelen, I.; Lipzig, N. P. M.; Lawrence, D. M.; Droppers, B.; Golub, M.; Gosling, S. N.; Janssen, A. B. G.; Marce, R.; Schmied, H. Mller; Perroud, M.; Pierson, D.; Pokhrel, Y.; Satoh, Y.; Schewe, J.; Seneviratne, Sonia I.; Stepanenko, V. M.; Tan, Z.; Woolway, R. I.; Thiery, W.

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I. Vanderkelen

N. P. M. Lipzig

D. M. Lawrence

B. Droppers

M. Golub

Professor of Climate Risks and Environmental Modelling

A. B. G. Janssen

R. Marce

H. Mller Schmied

M. Perroud

D. Pierson

Y. Pokhrel

Y. Satoh

J. Schewe

Sonia I. Seneviratne

V. M. Stepanenko

Z. Tan

R. I. Woolway

W. Thiery


©2020. The Authors. Heat uptake is a key variable for understanding the Earth system response to greenhouse gas forcing. Despite the importance of this heat budget, heat uptake by inland waters has so far not been quantified. Here we use a unique combination of global-scale lake models, global hydrological models and Earth system models to quantify global heat uptake by natural lakes, reservoirs, and rivers. The total net heat uptake by inland waters amounts to 2.6±3.2×1020J over the period 1900–2020, corresponding to 3.6% of the energy stored on land. The overall uptake is dominated by natural lakes (111.7%), followed by reservoir warming (2.3%). Rivers contribute negatively (-14%) due to a decreasing water volume. The thermal energy of water stored in artificial reservoirs exceeds inland water heat uptake by a factor ∼10.4. This first quantification underlines that the heat uptake by inland waters is relatively small, but non-negligible.


Vanderkelen, I., Lipzig, N. P. M., Lawrence, D. M., Droppers, B., Golub, M., Gosling, S. N., …Thiery, W. (2020). Global Heat Uptake by Inland Waters. Geophysical Research Letters, 47(12), Article e2020GL087867.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 27, 2020
Online Publication Date Jun 4, 2020
Publication Date Jun 28, 2020
Deposit Date Jun 10, 2020
Publicly Available Date Jun 16, 2020
Journal Geophysical Research Letters
Print ISSN 0094-8276
Electronic ISSN 1944-8007
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 47
Issue 12
Article Number e2020GL087867
Keywords General Earth and Planetary Sciences; Geophysics
Public URL
Publisher URL


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