Earth  Sun  ID: 4935

CERES Radiation Balance (Planetary Heat Uptake 2021 Update)

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.

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Visualization Credits

Trent L. Schindler (USRA): Lead Visualizer
Jonathan Gleason (NASA/LARC): Lead Producer
Denise Lineberry (NASA/LARC): Lead Writer
Norman Loeb (NASA/LRC): Lead Scientist
Jefferson Beck (USRA): Producer
Ellen T. Gray (ADNET): Producer
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NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio

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Data Used:
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.
Aqua/CERES/Incoming Solar Radiation
Data from SORCE for the flux magnitude at the Earth's orbit, coupled with solar incidence angles based on CERES measurement locations and times
Terra/CERES/Outgoing Longwave Radiation
Terra/CERES/Reflected Solar Radiation
Terra/CERES/Shortwave Radiation
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.

SVS >> Climate
SVS >> Radiation
SVS >> Radiation budget
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Atmosphere >> Atmospheric Radiation >> Radiative Flux
SVS >> Hyperwall
SVS >> Climate Change
NASA Science >> Earth
NASA Science >> Sun

GCMD keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation: Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version