The purpose of this paper is to put forward a new estimate, in the context of previous assessments, of the annual global mean energy budget. A description is provided of the source of each component to this budget. The top-of-atmosphere shortwave and longwave flux of energy is constrained by satellite observations. Partitioning of the radiative energy throughout the atmosphere is achieved through the use of detailed radiation models for both the longwave and shortwave spectral regions. Spectral features of shortwave and longwave fluxes at both the top and surface of the earth's system are presented. The longwave radiative forcing of the climate system for both clear (125 W m−2) and cloudy (155 W m−2) conditions are discussed. The authors find that for the clear sky case the contribution due to water vapor to the total longwave radiative forcing is 75 W m−2, while for carbon dioxide it is 32 W m−2. Clouds alter these values, and the effects of clouds on both the longwave and shortwave budget are addressed. In particular, the shielding effect by clouds on absorption and emission by water vapor is as large as the direct cloud forcing. Because the net surface heat budget must balance, the radiative fluxes constrain the sum of the sensible and latent heat fluxes, which can also be estimated independently.

This content is only available as a PDF.


*The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.