These plots are climatological annual and seasonal means of data obtained from the NASA Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) scanner instruments onboard the Terra and Aqua satellites during July 2005 through June 2015.
These images are provided by the NASA CERES Project. You may use them freely in your presentation or publication. We hope you find them useful. We do request that you provide the following credit line, “Image credit: Image courtesy of the CERES Science Team at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, USA”, if these images are used.
Images centered on the 180th meridian.
For scientists to understand climate, they must also determine what drives the changes within the Earth’s radiation balance. From March 2000 to May 2001, CERES measured some of these changes and produced new images that dynamically show heat (or thermal radiation) emitted to space from Earth’s surface and atmosphere (left sphere) and sunlight reflected back to space by the ocean, land, aerosols, and clouds (right sphere).
CERES measured thermal radiation or heat emitted from the United States, as shown in this image from May 2001. The record-setting high temperatures experienced in Southern California and Nevada on May 9 are visible in the yellow areas where great amounts of thermal energy are escaping to space. The levels of energy increase from blue to red to yellow. This example illustrates one of the most basic stabilizing forces in the Earth’s climate system: clear hot regions lose more energy to space than cold areas. The blue regions of low thermal emission over the northern U.S. are cold cloud tops. CERES data will be used to verify the ability of climate models to accurately predict this emission as our world experiences changes in surface reflectivity, clouds, atmospheric temperatures, and key greenhouse gases such as water vapor. The CERES data shown in this image are 14-day running average values of thermal radiation emitted to space.
CERES also measured the thermal energy emitted from the regions of the Indian subcontinent and northern Africa, as shown in this image from May 2001. The heat wave in Pakistan that killed at least 33 people the weekend of May 5-6 is seen in yellow as a region emitting high values of thermal energy.
What do the colors mean–The lowest amount of sunlight reflected back to space, shown in blue, occurs over clear ocean areas. Green colors show gradually increasing amounts of reflected sunlight. The areas of greatest reflected solar energy, shown in white, occur both from the tops of thick clouds and from ice-covered regions on the Earth’s surface during summer.
The amount of incoming solar energy the Earth receives on June 21, the first day of summer, is 30 percent higher at the North Pole than at the equator. Just 6 months later in winter, the entire polar cap receives no energy since Earth’s movement along its orbit has pointed the North Pole away from the Sun. This swing of illumination and reflection is shown dramatically in the CERES animation. Critical to understanding future climate are the subtle changes in reflected solar energy, such as changes in the surface area of the arctic ice cap or in cloud thickness. Ever-changing cloud cover or the seasonal retreat and advance of sea ice cause motion in this image. The CERES data shown in this image are 14-day running average values of sunlight reflected back to space.