NPP Ceres Shortwave Radiation

  • Released Sunday, July 22, 2012
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The CERES experiment is one of the highest priority scientific satellite instruments developed for NASA's Earth Observing System (EOS). The doors are open on NASA's Suomi NPP satellite and the newest version of the Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES) instrument is scanning Earth for the first time, helping to assure continued availability of measurements of the energy leaving the Earth-atmosphere system.

CERES products include both solar-reflected and Earth-emitted radiation from the top of the atmosphere to the Earth's surface. Cloud properties are determined using simultaneous measurements by other EOS and NPP instruments such as the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and the Visible and Infrared Sounder (VIRS). Analyses using CERES data, build upon the foundation laid by previous missions such as NASA Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE), leading to a better understanding of the role of clouds and the energy cycle in global climate change.

The sun's radiant energy is the fuel that drives Earth's climate engine. The Earth-atmosphere system constantly tries to maintain a balance between the energy that reaches the Earth from the sun and the energy that flows from Earth back out to space. Energy received from the sun is mostly in the visible (or shortwave) part of the electromagnetic spectrum. About 30% of the solar energy that comes to Earth is reflected back to space. The ratio of reflected-to-incoming energy is called "albedo" from the Latin word meaning whiteness. The solar radiation absorbed by the Earth causes the planet to heat up until it is radiating (or emitting) as much energy back into space as it absorbs from the sun. The Earth's thermal emitted radiation is mostly in the infrared (or longwave part of the spectrum. The balance between incoming and outgoing energy is called the Earth's radiation budget.

This global view shows CERES top-of-atmosphere (TOA) shortwave radiation from Jan 26 and 27, 2012. Thick cloud cover tends to reflect a large amount of incoming solar energy back to space (blue/green/white image).

For more information on the Clouds and Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES) see

Reflected shortwave flux at the top-of-atmospherecolorbar for Suomi NPP CERES

Reflected shortwave flux at the top-of-atmosphere

colorbar for Suomi NPP CERES


Please give credit for this item to:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

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This page was originally published on Sunday, July 22, 2012.
This page was last updated on Wednesday, May 3, 2023 at 1:52 PM EDT.


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