A Caltech Library Service

The Thermal Balance of Venus in Light of the Pioneer Venus Mission

Tomasko, M. G. and Smith, Peter H. and Suomi, V. E. and Sromovsky, L. A. and Revercomb, H. E. and Taylor, F. W. and Martonchik, D. J. and Seiff, A. and Boese, R. and Pollack, J. B. and Ingersoll, A. P. and Schubert, G. and Covey, C. C. (1980) The Thermal Balance of Venus in Light of the Pioneer Venus Mission. Journal of Geophysical Research A, 85 (A13). pp. 8187-8199. ISSN 0148-0227. doi:10.1029/JA085iA13p08187.

PDF - Published Version
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


Instruments flown on the Pioneer Venus orbiter and probes measured many of the properties of the atmosphere of Venus which control its thermal balance and support its high surface temperature. Estimates based on orbiter measurements place the effective radiating temperature of Venus at 228±5 K, corresponding to an emission of 153±13 W/m², and the bolometric Bond albedo at 0.80±0.02, corresponding to a solar energy absorption of 132±13 W/m². Uncertainties in these preliminary values are too large to interpret the flux difference as a true energy imbalance. A mode of submicron particles is suggested as an important source of thermal opacity near the cloud tops to explain the orbiter and probe thermal flux measurements. Comparison of the measured solar flux profile with thermal fluxes computed from the measured temperature structure and composition shows that the greenhouse mechanism explains essentially all of the 500 K difference between the surface and radiating temperatures of Venus. Precise comparison of the observed and computed value of this difference is hindered by uncertainties in the local variability of H_(2)O and in the thermal opacity of CO_2 and H_(2)O at high temperature and pressure. The directly measured thermal flux profiles at the small probe sites are surprisingly large and variable in the lower atmosphere. Observed zonal and meridional circulation are qualitatively as required to produce the observed uniformity of temperature structure. However, the present lack of quantitative estimates of the horizontal and vertical dynamical heat transports implied by these measurements is a significant gap in the understanding of the thermal balance of the atmosphere of Venus.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Sromovsky, L. A.0000-0001-5480-8580
Ingersoll, A. P.0000-0002-2035-9198
Additional Information:© 1980 American Geophysical Union. Received February 4, 1980; revised May 18, 1980; accepted May 21, 1980.
Issue or Number:A13
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20140226-132914262
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Tomasko, M. G., et al. (1980), The thermal balance of venus in light of the Pioneer Venus Mission, J. Geophys. Res., 85(A13), 8187–8199, doi:10.1029/JA085iA13p08187.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:44020
Deposited On:27 Feb 2014 00:11
Last Modified:10 Nov 2021 16:46

Repository Staff Only: item control page