To understand climatic implications of aerosols over global oceans, the aerosol optical properties retrieved from the Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS) are analyzed, and the effects of the aerosols on the Earth's radiation budgets (aerosol radiative forcing, ARF) are computed using a radiative transfer model. It is found that the distribution of the SeaWiFS-retrieved aerosol optical thickness is distinctively zonal. The maximum in the equatorial region coincides with the Intertropical Convergence Zone, and the maximum in the Southern Hemispheric high latitudes coincides with the region of prevailing westerlies. The minimum aerosol optical thickness is found in the subtropical high pressure regions, especially in the Southern Hemisphere. These zonal patterns clearly demonstrate the influence of atmospheric circulation on the oceanic aerosol distribution. Over global oceans, aerosols reduce the annual mean net downward solar flux by 5.4 W m-2 at the top of the atmosphere and by 6.1 W m-2 at the surface. The largest ARF is found in the tropical Atlantic, Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal, the coastal regions of Southeast and East Asia, and the Southern Hemispheric high latitudes. During the period of the Indonesian big fires (September-December 1997), the cooling due to aerosols is greater than 15 W m-2 at the top of the atmosphere and greater than 30 W m(exp -1) at the surface in the vicinity of the maritime continents. The atmosphere receives extra solar radiation by greater than 15 W m(exp -1) over a large area. These large changes in radiative fluxes are expected to have enhanced the atmospheric stability, weakened the atmospheric circulation, and augmented the drought condition during that period. It would be very instructive to simulate the regional climatic. The model-calculated clear sky solar flux at the top of the atmosphere is compared with that derived from the Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES). The net downward solar flux of CERES is systematically larger than the model calculations by -3 W M-2. In the equatorial region, the CERES-derived net downward solar flux is even larger than the model calculations without including aerosols. It is possible that the CERES incorrectly identified regions of high humidity and high aerosol concentration as being cloud contaminated and, hence, overestimated the clear sky net downward solar flux.