This study develops an equilibrium radiative model based on a quasi-adiabatic atmosphere that quantifies the average surface flux of a planetary body as a function of absorbed solar radiation P
and the bulk emissivity of the atmosphere with respect to surface radiation
. The surface flux is then given by
, and I define the scaling term
as the greenhouse factor. The model is applied to all of the rocky planets in the solar system to determine their greenhouse factors, and accounts for the diversity of planetary surface fluxes. The model is modified to allow for a top of atmosphere non-equilibrium state, which when compared with a recent observation-based model of the Earth energy budget, predicts the Earth’s radiative fluxes to within the uncertainty ranges of that model. The model developed in this study is able to quantify the changes in Earth’s surface flux caused by changes in bond albedo and atmospheric bulk emissivity by using the surface temperature, ocean heat content, incoming solar radiation and outgoing longwave radiation records. The model indicates an increase in absorbed solar radiation over the time period from 1979–2015 of the order of 3 W/m2
, which was caused by a decrease in planetary bond albedo. The time-series albedo generated by the model is in agreement with Clouds and Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) derived albedo over the period from 2000–2015. The model also indicates a slight decrease in atmospheric bulk emissivity over the same period. Since atmospheric bulk emissivity is a function of the sum of all of the greenhouse gas species, a simultaneous decrease in atmospheric water vapor may offset the effect of the well-documented increase in the non-condensing greenhouse gases over the period, and result in an overall net decrease in bulk emissivity. Atmospheric water vapor datasets partially support the conclusion, with the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP) data supporting a decrease. The NASA Water Vapor Project (NVAP-M) data supports a decrease in atmospheric water content over the period 1998–2008, but not over the longer period of 1988–2008. The model indicates that the decrease in planetary albedo was the driver for the increased surface flux over the stated period.
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