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FIGURE A.1 Earth's radiation balance. The solar radiation is set at 100 percent; all other values are in relation to it. About 25 percent of incident solar radiation is reflected back into space by the atmosphere, about 25 percent is absorbed by gases in the atmosphere, and about 5 percent is reflected into space from the earth's surface, leaving 45 percent to be absorbed by the oceans, land, and biotic material (white arrows).

Evaporation and mechanical heat transfer inject energy into the atmosphere equal to about 29 percent of incident radiation (grey arrow). Radiative energy emissions from the earth's surface and from the atmosphere (straight black arrows) are determined by the temperatures of the earth's surface and the atmosphere, respectively. Upward energy radiation from the earth's surface is about 104 percent of incident solar radiation. Atmospheric gases absorb part (25 percent) of the solar radiation penetrating the top of the atmosphere and all of the mechanical heat transferred from the earth's surface and the outbound radiation from the earth's surface. The downward radiation from the atmosphere is about 88 percent and outgoing radiation about 70 percent of incident solar radiation.

Note that the amounts of outgoing and incoming radiation balance at the top of the atmosphere, at 100 percent of incoming solar radiation (which is balanced by 5 percent reflected from the surface, 25 percent reflected from the top of the atmosphere, and 70 percent outgoing radiation), and at the earth's surface, at 133 percent (45 percent absorbed solar radiation plus 88 percent downward radiation from the atmosphere balanced by 29 percent evaporation and mechanical heat transfer and 104 percent upward radiation). Energy transfers into and away from the atmosphere also balance, at the atmosphere line, at 208 percent of incident solar radiation (75 percent transmitted solar radiation plus 29 percent mechanical transfer from the surface plus 104 percent upward radiation balanced by 50 percent of incoming solar continuing to the earth's surface, 70 percent outgoing radiation, and 88 percent downward radiation). These different energy transfers are due to the heat-trapping effects of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the reemission of energy absorbed by these gases, and the cycling of energy through the various components in the diagram. The accuracy of the numbers in the diagram is typically ±5.

This diagram pertains to a period during which the climate is steady (or unchanging); that is, there is no net change in heat transfers into earth's surface, no net change in heat transfers into the atmosphere, and no net radiation change into the atmosphere-earth system from beyond the atmosphere.



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