Credit: Kevin Trenberth, John Fasullo and Jeff Kiehl
This diagram illustrates the flow of energy through Earth's atmosphere. It shows how energy contained in sunlight warms our planet, and how this energy becomes temporarily trapped as it flows away from Earth's surface as longwave infrared radiation. This energy trap produces the greenhouse effect, the main driver of global warming.
Scientists Kevin Trenberth, John Fasullo, and Jeff Kiehl originally created this diagram to illustrate concepts presented in a research paper. Versions of this diagram have been featured in several videos, animations, and texts for educational audiences.