The profile of the atmosphere and also a setup sun room featured in this photo photographed by an expedition 15 crew member top top the International space Station. June, 2007. Source: NASA

Solar strength drives Earth's climate. Energy from the sun heats Earth's surface, warms the atmosphere, provides energy for photosynthesis, reasons evaporation, drives the weather and water cycles, and also powers the ocean currents. In the astronaut picture at right, taken from the International an are Station, you can see the sun setup through the atmosphere.When we look up in ~ the sky from the ground, the environment seems to go on forever, yet in truth it is extremely thin when contrasted to the diameter of Earth. To obtain a feeling of the thickness of the troposphere and stratosphere, two crucial layers of the atmosphere, try this straightforward exercise. Use a compass to draw a circle v a radius of 127 mm. This circle represents the Earth and also the inner-most atmosphere. The 1 mm line, the your pencil draws, to represent the typical thickness the the the an initial two class of the atmosphere: the troposphere, the region of weather, and the stratosphere, i m sorry protects united state from most of the Sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation. As you work through the this labs keep this relative scale in mind.

You are watching: Energy from the sun is transferred to earth through convection


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In stimulate to simplify your accounting, you will certainly break the process of power flow right into three parts. Use the diagrams and text below to overview your steps. While the procedure is continuous, and not step-by-step, this activity will help you to different out the details and create an energy "account."Before you start you will should gather 100 pennies, document squares, poker chips, Lego, or small cubes to aid you with your accounting. Girlfriend will also need 3 colored pencils: red, blue, and orange. When you have the essential supplies, download and also print this energy Balance recording sheet (Acrobat (PDF) 1MB Dec3 18) and a copy the the power Balance instructions (Acrobat (PDF) 2.6MB Mar29 13) to check out as you work through the lab.

Once you have actually gathered your materials, you will read a section of the printed instructions and then relocate pennies representing the energy from one place to the next.

Overview of power PathwaysBegin this task by gaining review of the power pathways. Making use of the graphic shown above, determine the just arrive solar radiation. Top top your printed version that the graphic, color the just arrived radiation blue. Next, color the arrows representing outgoing radiation red, and the latent and sensible heat arrows orange. You have actually now be separate the incoming and outgoing radiation.Part 1. Just arrive Solar Radiation

Solar energy, in the type of radiation, is constantly moving through space; shower our planet and its atmosphere. The radiation that arrives at the height of the atmosphere is one of two people reflected or absorbed.

Start v 100 objects (i.e., pennies). Different them into five columns top top a item of document as follows. These pennies represent 100 percent the the solar energy coming from the sun, or 100 units. Stack the pennies according to what happens to each unit of energy as that travels v the setting on its way to Earth's surface, as is diagrammed above.

23 units = reflected by the clouds and atmosphere7 systems = reflected by the Earth's surface19 devices = absorbed by the setting (ozone, aerosols, dust)4 systems = took in by clouds47 devices = absorbed by the earth surfaces (primarily ocean)

Next, include up and record the total units in your student notebook.Total the pennies the were reflected; girlfriend should have 30.

Part 2. Surface energy Budget

In component 1, you observed that around 30 percent that incoming sunshine is reflected ago to an are by corpuscle in the environment or bright soil surfaces, which leaves about 70 percent come be absorbed by the environment (23 percent) and also Earth's surface ar (47 percent) including the ocean. For the energy spending plan at Earth's surface to balance, procedures on the surface need to transfer and transform the 47 percent of incoming solar energy that the ocean and also land surfaces soaked up back into the atmosphere and also eventually space. Power leaves the surface ar through three key processes: evaporation, convection, and also emission of heat infrared (IR) radiation.

Transfer the 47 pennies, which represent the absorbed energy in the planet system, come a brand-new piece that paper. This energy, which has been soaked up by the surface of the Earth, will now be transferred back to the setting via several processes. To represent this, ridge the pennies in four brand-new columns together follows.

24 devices = latent heat: energy that is supplied in evaporation, transpiration, and condensation 5 units = sensible heat: energy that drives convection 12 systems = emitted from planet directly ago to an are 6 systems = network radiation amount absorbed by atmosphere
This is the long-wave radiation that is emitted indigenous Earth's surface to the environment (116), minus the energy that is straight transferred to room (12) linked with that which re-radiated earlier to earth by the setting (98). The equation would certainly be: <116-(12+98)>= 6

Part 3. The Atmosphere's power BudgetThe third step the the process moves the energy from the atmosphere back to space, with the complying with processes.

Collect the 19 and also 4 pennies, which were absorbed by the atmosphere and also clouds.Collect the 24 and also 5 pennies the were moved to the atmosphere via latent and sensible heat.Collect the 6 pennies that stayed in the atmosphere.Move these 58 pennies to 2 remaining locations in the following amounts:

49 units = emitted by the atmosphere9 devices = emitted by clouds

Total the three boxes on the top-right of the sheet. These room units that long-wave radiation moved by the atmosphere ago into space.
Return come the power Flow interactive, above. Testimonial the interaction one more time v the power accountant measures in mind. Climate answer the Stop and also Think questions below.

Stop and also Think

1. Now that friend have operated through the Earth's power balance, discuss how transforms in Earth's surface characteristics and also / or atmospheric ingredient could add to worldwide warming or cooling.2. Finish the adhering to phrases and add one of her own:

More radiation = _______ warmingLess enjoy = _______ warmingMore absorption = ________ warming______________ = ________________

How execute we understand what us know?

Measuring Earth's radiation balance is one enormous and also important task! How can we accurately and simultaneously know how much power is coming into the planet system, being reflected through clouds, and being emitted ago to space? To gain a global understanding that this balance scientists use tools on satellites. The following video explains just how the Clouds and the Earth's Radiant power System (CERES) sensors on NASA's Aqua and also Terra satellites measure Earth's energy balance.

Optional Extension

The CERES mission homepage contains more information around how NASA science goals are measure up Earth's power balance. Added background information, datasets, and details about Earth's energy Balance deserve to be discovered at the adhering to links:

NWS Jetstream - The Earth-Atmosphere power Balance website has additional explanations, diagrams and also a short explanation of exactly how cloud covering can add to warmer night time temperatures.

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The devices on the diagrams in this exercise space in regards to percentages of the just arrived 342 watts per meter2 that solar energy. These percentages might not be specifically the same in every diagram, together there is some variation in scientists' explanation around how much power is in each component of the system.

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