Earth's Global Energy Budget

by Miklos Zagoni


NASA CERES mission has started twenty years ago
to examine the role of clouds in Earth's radiant energy system;
finally it discovered something more interesting:
small integer ratios between the global mean energy flows.

ONE unit in the system is defined as UNIT ≡ OLR(all-sky)/9.
That is, we are finding ratios between energy flows,
not absolute values of flows: the flux values are scaling with OLR.

Our 'quantum', UNIT = 26.68 Wm-2, is not a universal constant:
it is derived from the best CERES EBAF TOA 4.0 value of
OLR(all-sky) = 240.12 Wm-2.

The differences from whole number multiples are
within the instrument calibration error of 4.3 Wm-2.

It seems the Earth's global annual mean flux structure is built up
from discrete blocks: 'wave packets' or 'atoms' ... it is quantal.


This structure is neither a CERES observation artifact, nor a coincidence:
it is there in other independent global energy budget estimates,
such as Wild et al. (2015), constrained by BSRN observations:

Incoming solar radiation at TOA (340 Wm-2)
and reflected solar radiation at TOA (100 Wm-2)
are not part of the integer system.
Their distance from the closest integer multiple position is
D = 13 units – 340 = 6.67 Wm-2, and
D = 4 units – 100 = 6.67 Wm-2.

Let us realize that this difference is exactly one-fourth of one unit:
D = 1 unit / 4.

This prescribes an integer position both for total solar irradiance (TSI)
and total solar reflection (TSR) as
TSI = 4 × 340 = 1360 Wm-2 = 51 units, and
TSR = 4 × 100 Wm-2 = 15 units.

This allows
36 units for total solar absorption:
TSA = 960 Wm-2 =
36 units.

In spherical geometry (disk area / sphere area) we have
36 / 4 = 9 units = 240 Wm-2
for Absorbed Solar Radiation (ASR).

Total Solar Irradiance
= 1360 Wm-2 = 51 units defines the integer system.

* * *

* * *
Stephens et al. (2012) updated global energy balance:

Notice the role of LW CRE as UNIT flux!

L'Ecuyer et al. (2015), adjusted to energy and water cycle constraints:

(Brussels, Atomium)

It is evident that this 'atomic theory of climate'
has nothing to do with the Planck-constant nor
the Heisenberg-relations or the Schrödinger-equation.

It means only that the annual mean energy flows in the
global energy budget are 'quantal', F = N x UNIT,
such as the wave numbers of the electromagnetic radiation in a box.

As we trust these atomic structure, we are going to make
a long-term prediction below on this page.


This unit, as well as the ratios, have meaningful physical explanation;
see Presentations and Posters below.

The corresponding basic rules and equations:

SFC (SW + LW) absorbed = 2 × TOA LW out (clear-sky)

SFC (SW + LW) absorbed = 2 × TOA LW out + SFC LW CRE (all-sky)

G (greenhouse effect) = SFC Net (turbulent fluxes) (clear-sky)

G (greenhouse effect) = Solar Absorbed Surface (all-sky)

The first and the fourth rules are evident characteristics of the geometric model,
their validity is being kept throughout the deduction;
the second and third rules are consequences for the resulting system.

For details, see NASA GSFC presentation, pp. 62-73.

The question is: Why the longwave cloud radiative effect, LWCRE,

plays the role of UNIT flux in the integer multiples structure
(as it is apparent in the above diagrams)?

A most curious point is the SW ATM/SFC = 1/2 breakdown.
But everything goes with 1/2...

From a surface perspective:
What is lost in the open all-sky atmospheric window
is gained back by the blanketing effect of clouds.

The answer to the above question might be this:
The energetic role of clouds is to close the window.

The resulted system is then an 'effectively IR-opaque' atmosphere,
where the F = N × UNIT integer ratios are characteristics
of wave propagation in a cavity.

The integer ratios are proved to be valid by independent
global-scale clear-sky radiative transfer computations as well, with
UNIT(clear-sky) = OLR(clear-sky)/4.

According to these ratios, the global energy budget is strictly constrained,
and the fundamental flux structures for clear-sky and all-sky are the followings:

All-sky integer table of fluxes:

Clear-sky integer table of fluxes:

Our results can be visualized by a simple geometric greenhouse model,
a planet surrounded by a 'glass-shell' atmosphere:

Let us emphasize that the
validity of the revealed arithmetic structures
is independent from the validity of this proposed conceptual model.

We are convinced that the presented numerical ratios are not resulted 
from some hypothesis or theory; they are there in the observed reality.

The apparent arithmetic simplicity of the energy flow distribution
is not a crude oversimplification of an otherwise complex reality,
but expresses the simplicity and clarity of the ruling principles.


CERES EBAF Ed4.0 monthly mean data, March 2000 - October 2017:

According to radiative transfer computations,
increasing CO2-concentration from 360 to 600 ppm
increases DLR about 1 Wm-2 
without feedbacks (Kato 2018).

This gives +0.08 Wm-2 DLR change caused by CO2 +20 ppm.
As CO2 goes up about +20 ppm per decade,
this gives about 0.08 Wm-2 increase in DLR per dacade.

In contrast, CMIP5 models project + 2 Wm-2 DLR increase per dacede.
This would require an amplifying water vapor feedback multiplication factor of 25.

DLR goes with OLR:





Fall 2017 CERES Science Team Meeting (NASA GSFC, Greenbelt/Washington)
Spring 2018 CERES Science Team Meeting (NASA LaRC, Hampton)
AGU 2018 Fall Meeting (Washington) (draft)
Spring 2019 CERES Science Team Meeting (NASA LaRC, Hampton) (planned)


AGU 2017 Fall Meeting (New Orleans)
EGU 2018 General Assembly (Vienna) Poster 1
/ Poster 2
8th GEWEX Open Science Conference (Canmore) Poster 1
Poster 2
American Meteorological Society 15th Conference on Cloud Physics/
15th Conference on Atmospheric Radiation (Vancouver)

2018 CLIVAR WCRP Workshop: Earth Energy Imbalance (Toulouse)

AGU 2018 Fall Meeting (Washington) / Presentation
EGU 2019 General Assembly (Vienna) 

(This GEWEX Conference is on the Climate and Water Extremes.
In light of the revealed constraints,
we think these extremes might occur on seasonal and regional scales,
while the
annual and global means are strictly regulated.)

The GEWEX 2012 Radiation Budget
(with our additions in dark textboxes):

Stefan Dewitte

EdMZ energy budget with OLR = 240.12 Wm-2

According to Wielicki et al. (1995), before CERES
it was known that the incoming solar = 340 Wm-2,
the reflected solar = 100 Wm-2 in all-sky and 50 Wm-2 in clear-sky,
with 240 and 270 Wm-2 outgoing LW, resp.
After 18 years of measurements, all-sky data are the same,
the clear-sky data have changed with 2 or 3 Wm-2.
Maybe a more spectacular achievement is the discovery of
direct TOA/surface energetic relationships
and the 'quantal' character of the flux system.
We think NASA CERES Science and Data Teams
performed the quantum measurement of our times
and discovered the discrete ("atomic") structure of Earth's energy flows.

The 2017 Legacy Version of this website is available here.