Ackerman, S. A., and R. Pincus, 2003: Radiation in the atmosphere: Observations and applications. In Handbook of Weather, Climate, and Water: Dynamics, Climate, Physical Meteorology, Weather Systems, and Measurements, T. D. Potter and B. R. Colman (Eds.), Wiley, 343-386.


The previous chapter discussed the physical mechanisms that underlie absorption and scattering and presented approaches to compute the quantities needed for remote sensing and energy budget applications. In this chapter we discuss observations of radiative fluxes and apply the equations to remote sensing the atmosphere. The boundary conditions at the tops and bottom of the atmosphere are required to compute the transfer of radiation through the atmosphere. Thus, the chapter begins by describing the boundary conditions at the top of the atmosphere and at the surface. These conditions are then used to calculate the radiative heating of the atmosphere in the next section. After discussing radiative heating profiles, observations of the energy budget at the top of the atmosphere are presented, followed by a discussion of the greenhouse effect.

Satellite observations are routinely used to help answer the question "What is the weather like?" In addition, satellite observations are routinely used to determine the state of Earth's surface as well as cloud properties. Section 6 provides examples of satellite remote sensing the surface and atmospheric conditions.