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The NASA Earth’s Energy Budget

EEB Front Side Litho

The energy budget diagram shows our best understanding of energy flows into and away from the Earth. It is based on the work of many scientists over more than 100 years, with the most recent measurements from the Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES; satellite instrument providing high accuracy data of the radiation components (reflected solar and emitted infrared radiation fluxes).

This energy balance determines the climate of the Earth. Our understanding of these energy flows will continue to evolve as scientists obtain a longer and longer record using new and better instruments.


Next Generation Science Standards –
  • 4-PS3-2: Make observations to provide evidence that energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat and electric currents.
  • 5-ESS2-1: Develop a model using an example to describe ways the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and/or atmosphere interact.
  • MS-PS3-5: Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century.
  • HS-ESS2-4: Use a model to describe how variations in the flow of energy into and out of Earth’s systems result in changes in climate.
  • HS-PS3-1 Create a computational model to calculate the change in the energy of one component in a system when the change in energy of the other component(s) and energy flows in and out of the system are known.
  • HS-ESS3-5 Analyze geoscience data and the results from global climage models to make an evidence based forecast of the current rate of global or regional climage change and associated future impacts to Earth systems.
  • HS-ESS3-6 Use a computational representation to illustrate the relationship among Earth systems and how those relationships are being modified due to human activity.
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Standards (grades 9-12) –
  • Number and Operations: Understand numbers, ways of representing numbers…
  • Measurement: Understand measurable attributes of objects and the units, systems, …
  • Data Analysis and Probability: Develop and evaluate inferences and predictions …
  • Connections: Recognize and apply mathematics in contexts outside of mathematics.
  • Representation: Use representations to model and interpret physical…




Title Authors Citation
Improving estimates of Earth’s energy imbalance Gregory C. Johnson, John M. Lyman, Norman G. Loeb (2016) Nature Climate Change 6, 639–640, doi:10.1038/nclimate3043
An update on Earth’s energy balance in light of the latest global observations Graeme L. Stephens, Juilin Li, Martin Wild, Carol Anne Clayson, Norman Loeb, Seiji Kato, Tristan L’Ecuyer, Paul W. Stackhouse Jr, Matthew Lebsock & Timothy Andrews (2012) Nature Geoscience 5, 691–696, doi:10.1038/ngeo1580
Quality Summary
CERES Science Team
Toward optimal closure of the Earth’s top-of-atmosphere radiation budget Loeb, N. G., B. A. Wielicki, D. R. Doelling, G. L. Smith, D. F. Keyes,
S. Kato, N. Manalo-Smith, and T. Wong
(2009) Journal of Climate, 22(3), 748-766, doi:10.1175/2008jcli2637.1.
An observationally based energy balance for the Earth since 1950 Murphy, D. M., S. Solomon, R. W. Portmann, K. H. Rosenlof, P. M. Forster, and T. Wong (2009) Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres, 114, 14, doi:D17107/10.1029/2009jd012105
Earth’s Global Energy Budget Trenberth, K. E., J. T. Fasullo,
and J. Kiehl
(2009) Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 90(3), 311-+, doi:10.1175/2008bams2634.1