Radiative Forcing

  • Released Thursday, March 25, 2021

A simplified animation of Earth's planetary energy balance: A planet’s energy budget is balanced between incoming (yellow) and outgoing radiation (red); On Earth, natural and human-caused processes affect the amount of energy received as well as emitted back to space; This study filters out variations in Earth’s energy budget due to feedback processes, revealing the energy changes caused by aerosols and greenhouse gas emissions.

We now have the first continuous, near-real-time observations of how humans are increasing Earth’s greenhouse effect, developed by NASA and university partners. The research directly demonstrates how human activities are responsible for changing the climate.

In the long run, all planets balance the energy they receive and the energy they emit back to space. Most of the energy coming from the Sun is shortwave radiation, or visible light. Energy absorbed by Earth warms the planet and longer wave (heat) energy is emitted back to space.

This study filters out variations in Earth’s energy budget due to feedback processes to show changes from aerosols (reflective particles in the atmosphere) and increases in the greenhouse effect caused by emissions of gases like carbon dioxide — the energy changes caused by humans.


Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab

Release date

This page was originally published on Thursday, March 25, 2021.
This page was last updated on Sunday, March 24, 2024 at 11:35 PM EDT.