CERES Earth Emitted Thermal (Longwave) Radiation, Flat Projection
CERES Instrument Team, NASA Langley Research Center,
Excess sunlight warms the Tropics. If ths continued over a long time, the Tropics would just keep warming. The Polar regions receive less energy from the sun than they emit to space, and so they cool. The temperature difference between the Tropics and the Poles creates winds and ocean currents that carry excess heat and moisture. When the moisture encounters cooler temperatures as it moves to the poles, clouds form and reduce the emission of energy to space. This animation shows the weather systems driven by the distribution of energy measured by CERES.