Disclaimer: This material is being kept online for historical purposes. Though accurate at the time of publication, it is no longer being updated. The page may contain broken links or outdated information, and parts may not function in current web browsers. Visit https://espo.nasa.gov for information about our current projects.


Assessment of global annual atmospheric energy balance from satellite...

Lin, B., P. Stackhouse, P. Minnis, B. Wielicki, Y. Hu, W. Sun, T. Fan, and L. Hinkelman (2008), Assessment of global annual atmospheric energy balance from satellite observations, J. Geophys. Res., 113, D16114, doi:10.1029/2008JD009869.

Global atmospheric energy balance is one of the fundamental processes for the earth’s climate system. This study uses currently available satellite data sets of radiative energy at the top of atmosphere (TOA) and surface as well as latent and sensible heat over the oceans for the year 2000 to assess the global annual energy budget. Over land, surface radiation data are used to constrain assimilated results and to force the radiation, turbulent heat, and heat storage into balance due to a lack of observation-based turbulent heat flux estimates. Global annual means of the TOA net radiation obtained from both satellite direct measurements and calculations are close to zero. The net radiative energy fluxes into the surface and the surface latent heat transported into the atmosphere are about 113 and 86 W/m2, respectively. The estimated atmospheric and surface heat imbalances are about -8 and 9 W/m2, respectively, values that are within the uncertainties of surface radiation and sea surface turbulent flux estimates and the likely systematic biases in the analyzed observations. The potential significant additional absorption of solar radiation within the atmosphere suggested by previous studies does not appear to be required to balance the energy budget: the spurious heat imbalances in the current data are much smaller (about half) than those obtained previously and debated about a decade ago. Progress in surface radiation and oceanic turbulent heat flux estimations from satellite measurements has significantly reduced the bias errors in the observed global energy budgets of the climate system.

PDF of Publication: 
Download from publisher's website.
Research Program: 
Modeling Analysis and Prediction Program (MAP)
Climate Variability and Change Program