An efficient spectrally resolved radiative model is used to calculate surface downwelling longwave (DLW) radiation (0 ∼ 2500 cm−1) under clear sky (cloud free) conditions at the ground level. The wavenumber spectral resolution of the model is 0.01 cm−1 and the atmosphere is represented by 18 non-uniform plane-parallel layers with pressure in each layer determined on a pressure-based coordinate system. The model utilizes the most up-to-date (2016) HITRAN molecular spectral data for 7 atmospheric gases: H2O, CO2, O3, CH4, N2O, O2 and N2. The MT_CKD model is used to calculate water vapor and CO2 continuum absorption coefficients. Longwave absorption and scattering coefficients for aerosols are modeled using Mie theory. For the non-scattering atmosphere (aerosol free), the surface DLW agrees within 2.91% with mean values from the InterComparison of Radiation Codes in Climate Models (ICRCCM) program, with spectral deviations below 0.035 W cm m−2. For a scattering atmosphere with typical aerosol loading, the DLW calculated by the proposed model agrees within 3.08% relative error when compared to measured values at 7 climatologically diverse SURFRAD stations. This relative error is smaller than a calibrated parametric model regressed from data for those same 7 stations, and within the uncertainty (+/− 5 W m−2) of pyrgeometers commonly used for meteorological and climatological applications. The DLW increases by 1.86 ∼ 6.57 W m−2 when compared with aerosol-free conditions, and this increment decreases with increased water vapor content due to overlap with water vapor bands. As expected, the water vapor content at the layers closest to the surface contributes the most to the surface DLW, especially in the spectral region 0 ∼ 700 cm−1. Additional water vapor content (mostly from the lowest 1 km of the atmosphere) contributes to the spectral range of 400 ∼ 650 cm−1. Low altitude aerosols (∼ 3.46 km or less) contribute to the surface value of DLW mostly in the spectral range 750 ∼ 1400 cm−1.