All of the research undertaken by NCEO researchers is underpinned by the physics of Earth’s radiative balance: the incoming radiation from the Sun versus the outgoing radiation emitted by the Earth. The balance between these two energy streams at the top of the Earth’s atmosphere is, at the most fundamental level, what drives our climate system.
The water cycle is inextricably tied up in the exchange of energy around the globe. Clouds and water vapour are strong modulators of both solar and emitted terrestrial radiation, while the heat exchanged during phase changes (condensation and evaporation) plays a key role in heating the atmosphere.. However, understanding the many feedbacks within and between the energy and water cycles, including the exchanges of energy at the land surface is a major scientific challenge.