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Topic: NASA’s Clouds and Earth’s Radiant Energy System

NASA’s CERES Flight Model 6 instrument to help study Earth’s Energy Budget

 

Written by Eric Gillard
NASA Langley Research Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationHampton, VA – The Earth and its interconnected systems have always been a fascination for Norman Loeb.

“It’s quite an interesting thing when you think about how energy is distributed and exchanged in various forms amongst Earth’s atmosphere, ocean, land and snow surfaces,” he said.

As the principal investigator of NASA’s Radiaton Budget Science Project, Loeb oversees a series of space-borne instruments that measure reflected sunlight and thermal radiation emitted by the Earth. It gives him a chance to satisfy his curiosity about our home planet from NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

Earth’s energy budget describes the balance between the radiant energy that reaches Earth from the sun and the energy that flows from Earth back out to space. (NASA)

Earth’s energy budget describes the balance between the radiant energy that reaches Earth from the sun and the energy that flows from Earth back out to space.
(NASA)

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Global ocean currents explain why the Northern Hemisphere is the soggier one

 

A quick glance at a world precipitation map shows that most tropical rain falls in the Northern Hemisphere. The Palmyra Atoll, at 6 degrees north, gets 175 inches of rain a year, while an equal distance on the opposite side of the equator gets only 45 inches. Scientists long believed that this was a quirk of the Earth’s geometry – that the ocean basins tilting diagonally while the planet spins pushed tropical rain bands north of the equator. But a new University of Washington study shows that the pattern arises from ocean currents originating from the poles, thousands of miles away.

The findings, published Oct. 20 in Nature Geoscience, explain a fundamental feature of the planet’s climate, and show that icy waters affect seasonal rains that are crucial for growing crops in such places as Africa’s Sahel region and southern India.

At the left is observations of average annual precipitation. The right is simulated precipitation with ocean conveyor-belt circulation turned off. (D. Frierson/UW)

At the left is observations of average annual precipitation. The right is simulated precipitation with ocean conveyor-belt circulation turned off. (D. Frierson/UW)

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