CERES Radiation Balance (Planetary Heat Uptake 2021 Update)

  • Released Friday, April 16, 2021
  • Updated Thursday, September 2, 2021 at 1:53PM
  • ID: 4935

A plotted view of planetary heat uptake since the beginning of the CERES data record showing an oscillating, monthly mean (yellow) and twelve-month running average (red line). These data show how much energy is added (absorbed) by Earth during the CERES period.

The Clouds and the Earth’s Energy Radiant System (CERES) instrument is a key component of NASA’s Earth Observing System, with six active CERES instruments on satellites orbiting Earth and taking data.  

For Earth’s temperature to be stable over long periods of time, absorbed solar and emitted thermal radiation must be equal. Increases in greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide and methane, trap emitted thermal radiation from the surface and reduce how much is lost to space, resulting in a net surplus of energy into the Earth system. Most of the extra energy ends up being stored as heat in the ocean and the remainder warms the atmosphere and land, and melts snow and ice. As a consequence, global mean surface temperature increases and sea levels rise.

Much like a pulse or heartbeat, CERES monitors reflected solar and emitted thermal infrared radiation, which together with solar irradiance measurements is one of Earth’s ‘vital signs.’ Better understanding Earth’s energy balance enables us to be informed and adapt to a changing world.


Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio

Datasets used in this visualization

Terra (Collected with the CERES sensor)

The CERES instrument aboard many Earth-orbiting satellites records the flow of reflected Solar radiation and reprocessed longwave radiation in the Earth's radiation budget.

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Aqua Incoming Solar Radiation (Collected with the CERES sensor)

Data from SORCE for the flux magnitude at the Earth's orbit, coupled with solar incidence angles based on CERES measurement locations and times

See more visualizations using this data set
Terra Outgoing Longwave Radiation (Collected with the CERES sensor)
Terra Reflected Solar Radiation (Collected with the CERES sensor)
Terra Shortwave Radiation (Collected with the CERES sensor)

Note: While we identify the data sets used in these visualizations, we do not store any further details nor the data sets themselves on our site.

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