Monday, 6 December 2010

Measure of the Greenhouse Effect

Outgoing spectral radiance at the top of Earth's atmosphere showing the absorption at specific frequencies and the principle absorber. For comparison, the red curve shows the flux from a classic "blackbody" at 294°K (≈31°C ≈ 69.5°F).

A satellite map of the outgoing longwave radiation emitted by Earth in September 2008 demonstrates not only geographical variations but also those caused by cloud presence. More heat escapes from areas just north and south of the equator, where the surface is warmer and there are fewer clouds. (Image: NASA/Earth Observatory/Robert Simmon from CERES data.