By the end of this chapter, you should be able to:
- demonstrate the effects of infrared absorbers on Earth’s temperature using a simple model
- explain the concept of radiative–convective equilibrium
- determine what a satellite is seeing by interpreting the observed spectrum of upwelling infrared radiation
Now that you are familiar with the principles of atmospheric radiation, we can apply them to help us better understand weather and climate. Climate is related to weather, but the concepts used in predicting climate are very different from those used to predict weather.
- 7.3: Atmospheric Radiation and Earth’s Climate
- The solar irradiance is essentially composed of parallel radiation beams that strike half the globe. At the same time, outgoing infrared radiation is emitted to space in all directions from both the sunlit and dark sides of the globe. At the top of the atmosphere, the difference of the incoming solar radiation energy minus the amount of solar radiation energy that is scattered back to space must balance the emitted infrared radiation energy for radiative equilibrium to hold.
- 7.4: What does the energy balance of the real atmosphere look like?
- The real atmosphere's energy balance includes not only radiation energy but also energy associated with evaporation and convection. However, the atmosphere is still very close to total energy balance at each level.
Thumbnail: GOES-15 (GOES-West Backup) image of Western U.S. Infrared. (Public Domain; NOAA).