Register for an account

X

Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.

X

Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

Environment

Space Snapshots of Our Big Blue Heat Machine

By Maia WeinstockOctober 1, 2001 5:00 AM

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

rd_space.jpg

May 25, 2001 May 25, 2001Longwave radiation (thermal) Shortwave radiation (light)

Photographs courtesy of NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center (2)

Earth's energy budget— the solar radiation it absorbs minus the heat the planet loses to space— controls the weather and determines whether global warming will occur. The CERES instruments on NASA's Terra satellite are providing a detailed look at this pulse of our planet (see visibleearth.nasa.gov/Sensors/Terra). One kind of CERES map depicts where Earth releases thermal energy, with the areas of greatest heat output depicted as bright yellow (left). A bright yellow patch over the Middle East denotes a major heat wave that killed dozens of people. A second type of map illustrates how much sunlight the planet reflects (right). Northern latitudes appear notably bright because Earth's axis tilts these areas into continuous sunlight in summer. The brightest areas in the sunlight map often appear dark in the thermal image: Less sunshine is absorbed there, helping Earth keep its cool.

    2 Free Articles Left

    Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.

    Subscribe

    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

    Want unlimited access?

    Subscribe today and save 70%

    Subscribe

    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In