Earth's Radiation Budget

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

At the direction of Congress, NOAA is developing a research program to investigate natural and human activities which might alter the reflectivity of the stratosphere and the marine boundary layer, and the potential impact of those activities on the Earth system. The appropriation further directs OAR to improve the understanding of the impact of atmospheric aerosols on radiative forcing, as well as on the formation of clouds, precipitation, and extreme weather.

The FY20 appropriation provided $4,000,000, increased to $9,000,000 in FY21, and again to $9,500,000 in FY23.

Funding for ERB has broadly supported projects focused on the following:

  • Development and demonstration of an unprecedented capability to measure stratospheric trace gases and aerosols from a high-altitude research aircraft, to provide stringent constraints on Earth system models used to predict the broader climatic impacts of natural and human-caused additions of aerosol to the stratosphere, including from potential solar climate interventions.
  • Acquisition of a growing dataset of baseline aerosol distributions that will eventually provide a quantitative global assessment of typical aerosol levels in the stratosphere, a necessary prerequisite for early detection of unannounced climate intervention through stratospheric aerosol injections.
  • New and improved modeling capabilities to (a) simulate the sources and fate of stratospheric aerosols and their impacts on climate; (b) forecasting how natural and human-caused aerosols influence marine clouds; and, (c) understand the efficacy and impacts of proposed solar climate interventions.

Please refer to the Projects to learn more about specific projects by year (2020, 2021, 2022) or field campaign (B2SAP, SABRE, AEROMMA).

Science by its nature is collaborative. In pursuing its core mission of Science, Service and Stewardship of the Earth system, NOAA has a long and productive history of collaborating with other US and international scientific institutions. Please refer to our Partners for a full list of collaborators.

NOAA's research is always subject to input and review from experts at other institutions and by the broader scientific community. Research carried out under this program will be presented at scientific conferences and will ultimately be subject to rigorous peer-review before its publication in scientific journals.

NOAA is studying natural and human activities which might alter the reflectivity of the stratosphere and the marine boundary layer, and the potential impact of those activities on the Earth system. NOAA and its partners have a history of atmospheric research relevant to the Earth Radiation Budget request. They are using models, conducting laboratory experiments, and acquiring atmospheric observations to learn more about these important aspects of the Earth system.

By engaging in Earth Radiation Budget research, NOAA does not condone or support the implementation of measures to artificially cool the Earth's surface. Indeed, climate intervention approaches will not address the root of human-caused climate change from increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

NOAA investigates many complex, and sometimes controversial, environmental issues to understand and predict changes in Earth's climate, weather, oceans, and coasts. Any decision to implement climate intervention activities will be made outside of NOAA. NOAA's objective for its research programs are to improve our scientific understanding of the Earth system and thereby provide the needed scientific foundation for societal decision-making on key environmental issues.

The ERB appropriations enable NOAA to initiate much-needed "baseline" research to begin to address important knowledge gaps related to the Earth Radiation Budget, including climate intervention proposals. We do not currently understand how critical Earth systems may respond to climate intervention strategies on a global scale.

There are no plans for NOAA to conduct climate intervention experiments in the stratosphere or marine boundary layer.

One goal of NOAA's Earth Radiation Budget program is to identify and quantify the response of the Earth system to climate intervention activities. At present, there are significant knowledge gaps which need to be filled before scientists can provide a comprehensive evaluation of possible climate intervention strategies.

The results of the NOAA program will provide part of the needed scientific foundation required to inform policy decisions related to climate intervention proposals which otherwise might be adopted or rejected without sufficient understanding of the consequences or alternatives available.

NOAA research undertaken to assess climate intervention methods will also lead to a better understanding of the role of cloud-aerosol interactions in the Earth system, which is the main uncertainty in projecting future climate.

Observation programs initiated by this research will be able to determine if climate intervention in the stratosphere is already being conducted in the absence of international protocols.