If we had a heat bank account (the atmosphere)
+ heat cash supply (ice)
+ heat debt (the oceans)

could governments find a way to balance our heat economy that doesn't kill everything? I think I'd rather have Mother Nature fix it, but we need to be ready for her mood swings (hurricanes, wind storms, waves).

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    $\begingroup$ I've answered below the question on the title. However, an initially clear question becomes unclear with you text. I would suggest rephrasing it. Also consider that heat can't be measured in Kelvin, so you can't expect an answer in Kelvin. $\endgroup$ – Camilo Rada Apr 12 '18 at 5:29

I don't fully get the rationale of your energy budget analogy. Nevertheless, the main question is easy to address. The Earth's effective radiating temperature is -21°C and its emissivity approximately 0.96 (source). Plugging all that on the Stefan–Boltzmann law, you get that Earth's atmosphere sends energy out to outer space at a rate of 220 $W/m^2$, totalling for the whole Earth approximately $112 \times 10^{15}$ or 112 PW (Peta Watts). Over a year that means approximately $3.5 \times 10^{24}$ J.

That should be a very good approximation, but small variations due to climate natural variability and climate change are very important to know the exact Earth's energy budget. That's why many satellites have dedicated instruments to measure this value. One good example is the NISTAR radiometer onboard of DSCOVR.

It is important to know that the above figure ignores the energy reflected from the Sun. But when considering the energy budget that energy is accounted by Earth's albedo.

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  • $\begingroup$ Awesome!! Thanks for your thorough answer. 😎 $\endgroup$ – Agent Questo Apr 13 '18 at 22:25

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