Atmospheric Radiation

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Atmospheric Radiation

Infrared radiation emitted by or being propagated through the atmosphere. See insolation.
Atmospheric radiation, lying almost entirely within the wavelength interval of from 3 to 80 microns, provides one of the most important mechanisms by which the heat balance of the earth-atmosphere system is maintained. Infrared radiation emitted by the earth's surface (terrestrial radiation) is partially absorbed by the water vapor of the atmosphere which in turn remits it, partly upward, partly downward. This secondarily emitted radiation is then, in general, repeatedly absorbed and reemitted, as the radiant energy progresses through the atmosphere. The downward flux, or counterradiation, is of basic importance in the greenhouse effect; the upward flux is essential to the radiative balance of the planet.


This article is based on NASA's Dictionary of Technical Terms for Aerospace Use