The Earth's Radiation Budget is the net radiation flux, in other words the difference between the solar radiation absorbed (by the atmosphere or land), and the infrared radiation that escapes from the atmosphere into space. The budget for such radiation fluxes, which constitute the only exchanges of energy between the Earth and space, is an essential element in climatic balance. Though the Earth's Radiation Budget balances out in terms of annual global average, the same is not true on a regional scale, depending on the seasons. In order to understand how the Earth's "climatic system" works, it is vital to map Earth's Radiation Budget components and monitor its variation over time. Climatic change (linked to human activity, for example) can only occur in conjunction with a change in these budgets.
Initial estimations of the Earth's Radiation Budget date back to the beginning of the century, but it is only over the past twenty years or so, with the development of satellites, that quantitative measurements have become possible.
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Latest Update 04/06/2002
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