AGW Observer

Observations of anthropogenic global warming

Papers on Earth’s radiation budget

Posted by Ari Jokimäki on October 16, 2009

This is a list of papers about Earth’s radiation budget as a whole. The list is not complete, and will most likely be updated in the future in order to make it more thorough and more representative.

UPDATE (July 7, 2021): Kramer et al. (2021) added.

UPDATE (November 1, 2009): Murphy et al. (2009) added, thanks to “qwerty” for pointing it out, see the discussion section below.

Observational Evidence of Increasing Global Radiative Forcing (Kramer et al. 2021). “We apply radiative kernels to satellite observations to disentangle these components and find all-sky instantaneous radiative forcing has increased 0.53 ± 0.11 W/m2 from 2003 to 2018, accounting for positive trends in the total planetary radiative imbalance. This increase has been due to a combination of rising concentrations of well-mixed greenhouse gases and recent reductions in aerosol emissions. These results highlight distinct fingerprints of anthropogenic activity in Earth’s changing energy budget, which we find observations can detect within 4 years.

An observationally based energy balance for the Earth since 1950 – Murphy et al. (2009) “We examine the Earth’s energy balance since 1950, identifying results that can be obtained without using global climate models. Important terms that can be constrained using only measurements and radiative transfer models are ocean heat content, radiative forcing by long-lived trace gases, and radiative forcing from volcanic eruptions. We explicitly consider the emission of energy by a warming Earth by using correlations between surface temperature and satellite radiant flux data and show that this term is already quite significant. About 20% of the integrated positive forcing by greenhouse gases and solar radiation since 1950 has been radiated to space. Only about 10% of the positive forcing (about 1/3 of the net forcing) has gone into heating the Earth, almost all into the oceans. About 20% of the positive forcing has been balanced by volcanic aerosols, and the remaining 50% is mainly attributable to tropospheric aerosols.”

Changes in the flow of energy through the Earth’s climate system – Trenberth & Fasullo (2009) “A review is given of the trends, variability, mean and annual cycle of energy flowing through the climate system, and its storage, release, and transport in the atmosphere, ocean, and land surface as estimated with recent observations, with some new updates using the latest datasets. The current imbalance in radiation at the top-of-atmosphere owing to human-induced increases in greenhouse gases means that the atmosphere, land and ocean are warming up, and ice is melting, leading to a rise in sea level. A discussion is given of our ability to track these changes with current observations and analyses.” [Link to PDF]

Toward Optimal Closure of the Earth’s Top-of-Atmosphere Radiation Budget – Loeb et al. (2009) “Despite recent improvements in satellite instrument calibration and the algorithms used to determine reflected solar (SW) and emitted thermal (LW) top-of-atmosphere (TOA) radiative fluxes, a sizeable imbalance persists in the average global net radiation at the TOA from satellite observations. … This study provides a detailed error analysis of TOA fluxes based on the latest generation of Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) gridded monthly mean data products [the monthly TOA/surface averages geostationary (SRBAVG-GEO)] and uses an objective constrainment algorithm to adjust SW and LW TOA fluxes within their range of uncertainty to remove the inconsistency between average global net TOA flux and heat storage in the earth–atmosphere system.”

Earth’s Global Energy Budget – Trenberth et al. (2009) “An update is provided on the Earth’s global annual mean energy budget in the light of new observations and analyses.” [Link to PDF]

Reexamination of the Observed Decadal Variability of the Earth Radiation Budget Using Altitude-Corrected ERBE/ERBS Nonscanner WFOV Data – Wong et al. (2006) “With this final correction, the ERBS Nonscanner-observed decadal changes in tropical mean LW, SW, and net radiation between the 1980s and the 1990s now stand at 0.7, −2.1, and 1.4 W m−2, respectively, which are similar to the observed decadal changes in the High-Resolution Infrared Radiometer Sounder (HIRS) Pathfinder OLR and the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP) version FD record but disagree with the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) Pathfinder ERB record.” [Link to PDF]

The Geostationary Earth Radiation Budget Project – Harries et al. (2005) “GERB is designed to make the first measurements of the Earth’s radiation budget from geostationary orbit. Measurements at high absolute accuracy of the reflected sunlight from the Earth, and the thermal radiation emitted by the Earth are made every 15 min, with a spatial resolution at the subsatellite point of 44.6 km (north–south) by 39.3 km (east–west). With knowledge of the incoming solar constant, this gives the primary forcing and response components of the top-of-atmosphere radiation.” [Link to PDF]

Physics of the Earth’s radiative energy balance – Harries (2000) “Following an introduction to the basic physics of the energy balance and the greenhouse effect, a discussion is given of how the spectrum of outgoing thermal radiation (by which the planet cools to space) depends on internal parameters such as surface temperature and atmospheric humidity. This includes a discussion of the sign and magnitude of the water vapour-climate feedback, and the ‘super greenhouse effect’. It is shown that the role of cloud in the energy balance is extremely important, although poorly understood. Recent work to exploit the information contained in the resolved spectrum of outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) is described, including a new technique to search for the ‘signal’ of climate change within the ‘noise’ of natural climate fluctuations.”

Earth’s Annual Global Mean Energy Budget – Kiehl & Trenberth (1997) “The purpose of this paper is to put forward a new estimate, in the context of previous assessments, of the annual global mean energy budget. A description is provided of the source of each component to this budget. The top-of-atmosphere shortwave and longwave flux of energy is constrained by satellite observations. … The authors find that for the clear sky case the contribution due to water vapor to the total longwave radiative forcing is 75 W m-2, while for carbon dioxide it is 32 W m-2.” [Link to PDF]

The Nimbus Earth Radiation Budget (ERB) Experiment: 1975 to 1992 – Kyle et al. (1993) “Three spectrally broadband measurement sets are presently being used for earth radiation budget (ERB) studies. These are the Nimbus-6 ERB (July 1975 to June 1978), the Nimbus-7 ERB (November 1978 to the present), and the Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE) (November 1984 to present). … This report describes some successes and lessons learned during the Nimbus ERB program and the compatibility of the Nimbus and ERBE products.”

The Role of Earth Radiation Budget Studies in Climate and General Circulation Research – Ramanathan (1987) “Two decades of near-continuous measurements of earth radiation budget data from satellites have made significant contributions to our understanding of the global mean climate, the greenhouse effect, the meridional radiative heating that drives the general circulation, the influence of radiative heating on regional climate, and climate feedback processes. The remaining outstanding problems largely concern the role of clouds in governing climate, in influencing the general circulation, and in determining the sensitivity of climate to external perturbations, i.e., the so-called cloud feedback problem. In this paper a remarkably simple and effective approach is proposed to address these problems, with the aid of the comprehensive radiation budget data collected by the Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE).”

Satellite observations of the earth’s radiation budget components and the problem of the energetically active zones of the world ocean (EAZO) – Kondrat’ev & Kozoderov (1986) “The numerical models developed by Lappo et al. (1984) to describe the role of energy-active zones of the ocean (EAZOs) in short-term climatic changes are refined on the basis of satellite data on the earth radiation budget (ERB), with a focus on four North Atlantic EAZOs. The data are presented in graphs and maps, and consideration is given to annual changes in the mean-square deviation of the ERB, teleconnections between tropical and midlatitude ERB anomalies, and the effects of cloud cover on ERB. The data are found to confirm the importance of EAZOs for ERB changes, and global regions with major teleconnections to the tropical central Pacific region are shown to be closely related to EAZOs.”

The Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE) – Barkstrom (1984) “The Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE) is the first multi-satellite system designed to measure the Earth’s radiation budget. It will fly on a low-inclination NASA satellite and two Sun-synchronous NOAA satellites during the mid-1980s.”

The Earth Radiation Budget Derived From the NIMBUS 7 ERB Experiment – Jacobowitz & Tighe (1984) “The earth radiation budget as determined from the ERB experiment aboard the NIMBUS 7 polar-orbiting satellite is presented in the form of time-latitude cross sections, hemispherically and globally averaged time plots, and annual global averages for the time period spanning November 1978 through October 1979.”

The Earth Radiation Budget (ERB) Experiment: An Overview – Jacobowitz et al. (1984) “The development of ERB observational systems is traced from its beginnings in the late 1950’s through to the current ERB on the NIMBUS 7 satellite. The instruments comprising the current 22-channel ERB experiment are described in some detail.”

Measurements of the Earth’s Radiation Budget from Satellites During a Five-Year Period. Part I: Extended Time and Space Means – Vonder Haar & Suomi (1970) “This paper summarizes an extended time series of measurements of the earth’s radiation budget from the first and second generation United States meteorological satellites. Values of planetary albedo, infrared radiant emittance, and the resulting net radiation budget are now available for 39 months during the period 1962–66. These measurements show a mean global albedo of 30%, and net radiation balance within measurement accuracy.”

Satellite Observations of the Earth’s Radiation Budget – Vonder Haar & Suomi (1969) “Meteorological satellites have provided the first complete data on energy exchange between earth and space. The planetary albedo is 29 percent for the mean annual case, and the entire earth-atmosphere system is in near radiative equilibrium. More energy is absorbed in tropical regions than previously believed, and major energy source and sink regions exist within latitude belts.”


7 Responses to “Papers on Earth’s radiation budget”

  1. qwerty said

    I found this one, don’t know if this is the right place for it

  2. Ari Jokimäki said

    Thanks, I added it here. That kind of papers – touching many research areas – are always somewhat difficult to place, but this list seems to be best for that one.

  3. Magnus W said

    this one?

    Ocean heat content and Earth’s radiation imbalance

    Feel free to delete this msg after you decided!

  4. Ari Jokimäki said

    Tack så mycket, Magnus! 🙂

    I added that paper to the “Papers on ocean temperature” -list. It seemed to fit there slightly better (abstract says very little so it’s quite hard to decide).

  5. barry said

    The seminal Ramanathan and Coakley 1978 may belong here. Calculation of earth’s radiation budget through atmospheric gases.

    Climate modeling through radiative-convective models – Ramanathan and Coakley (1978) “We present a review of the radiative-convective models that have been used in studies pertaining to the earth’s climate. After familiarizing the reader with the theoretical background, modeling methodology, and techniques for solving the radiative transfer equation the review focuses on the published model studies concerning global climate and global climate change. Radiative-convective models compute the globally and seasonally averaged surface and atmospheric temperatures. The computed temperatures are in good agreement with the observed temperatures. The models include the important climatic feedback mechanism between surface temperature and H2O amount in the atmosphere. The principal weakness of the current models is their inability to simulate the feedback mechanism between surface temperature and cloud cover. It is shown that the value of the critical lapse rate adopted in radiative-convective models for convective adjustment is significantly larger than the observed globally averaged tropospheric lapse rate. The review also summarizes radiative-convective model results for the sensitivity of surface temperature to perturbations in (1) the concentrations of the major and minor optically active trace constituents, (2) aerosols, and (3) cloud amount. A simple analytical model is presented to demonstrate how the surface temperature in a radiative-convective model responds to perturbations.”

    Full PDF –

    Although, it may belong in more than one section, as it also discuses climate sensitivity and clouds etc.

  6. Ari Jokimäki said

    As I don’t have general modelling list, I inserted that one to the models vs. observations list, thanks Barry. 🙂

  7. barry said

    That might not be a good place for that paper, as it does not make any kind of modeled projection like GCM outputs. Most of R&C is a calculation of the greenhouse effect, going into great detail on radiative transfer through the various gases in the atmosphere. Much of the paper is concerned with establishing the budget at equilibrium, so I think it deserves a place in this list, but also in the list on climate sensitivity, as it assesses the effect of various perturbations to the equilibrium radiation budget. It builds on the work of Manabe and Wetherald (1967), which also attempted to calculate the Earth’s radiation budget through the atmospheric gases at equilibrium, as well as assessing climate sensitivity (M&W 67 is already in the climate sensitivity list).

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