Image from TERRA
Thu, 30 Dec 2021 13:00 EST

In 2021, Hurricane Ida left over 1 million people without power, tornadoes tore across the American Midwest, volcanoes forced people to evacuate their homes, wildfires covered the American West and unusual flooding wreaked havoc on Central Europe.

Image from TERRA
Thu, 21 Oct 2021 10:00 EDT

Instruments, like this flux tower, are used by scientists to verify the accuracy of the data available in OpenET, a powerful new web-based platform that puts Earth science data about water use by crops and other vegetation into the hands of farmers and water managers.

Image from TERRA
Thu, 07 Oct 2021 13:00 EDT

The U.S. Forest Service now has a powerful way to view near-real time fire detection from NASA satellite data that they can include in their hourly air quality forecasts.

Measuring Earth’s Albedo

albedo_change

NASA Earth Observatory images by Robert Simmon based on data from CERES. Caption by Mike Carlowicz.

Sunlight is the primary driver of Earth’s climate and weather. Averaged over the entire planet, roughly 340 watts per square meter of energy from the Sun reach Earth. About one-third of that energy is reflected back into space, and the remaining 240 watts per square meter is absorbed by land, ocean, and atmosphere. Exactly how much sunlight is absorbed depends on the reflectivity of the atmosphere and the surface.

As scientists work to understand why global temperatures are rising and how carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are changing the climate system, they have been auditing Earth’s energy budget. Is more energy being absorbed by Earth than is being lost to space? If so, what happens to the excess energy?

For seventeen years, scientists have been examining this balance sheet with a series of space-based sensors known as Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System, or CERES. The instruments use scanning radiometers to measure both the shortwave solar energy reflected by the planet (albedo) and the longwave thermal energy emitted by it. Read more

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