Articles | Volume 1, issue 1
22 Feb 2010
 | 22 Feb 2010

Earth's surface heat flux

J. H. Davies and D. R. Davies

Abstract. We present a revised estimate of Earth's surface heat flux that is based upon a heat flow data-set with 38 347 measurements, which is 55% more than used in previous estimates. Our methodology, like others, accounts for hydrothermal circulation in young oceanic crust by utilising a half-space cooling approximation. For the rest of Earth's surface, we estimate the average heat flow for different geologic domains as defined by global digital geology maps; and then produce the global estimate by multiplying it by the total global area of that geologic domain. The averaging is done on a polygon set which results from an intersection of a 1 degree equal area grid with the original geology polygons; this minimises the adverse influence of clustering. These operations and estimates are derived accurately using methodologies from Geographical Information Science. We consider the virtually un-sampled Antarctica separately and also make a small correction for hot-spots in young oceanic lithosphere. A range of analyses is presented. These, combined with statistical estimates of the error, provide a measure of robustness. Our final preferred estimate is 47±2 TW, which is greater than previous estimates.