The profile of the atmosphere and also a setup sun room featured in this photo photographed by an exploration 15 crew member on the International an are 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, causes evaporation, cd driver the weather and also water cycles, and powers the ocean currents. In the astronaut picture at right, taken indigenous the International an are Station, you deserve to see the sun setting through the atmosphere.When us look up in ~ the sky from the ground, the setting seems to go on forever, yet in fact it is incredibly thin when contrasted to the diameter the Earth. To get a sense of the thickness the the troposphere and also stratosphere, two vital layers of the atmosphere, shot this simple exercise. Usage a compass to draw a circle v a radius the 127 mm. This circle represents the Earth and also the inner-most atmosphere. The 1 mm line, the your pencil draws, represents the mean thickness that the the an initial two class of the atmosphere: the troposphere, the an ar of weather, and also the stratosphere, which protects united state from many of the Sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Together you work through the this labs keep this loved one scale in mind.

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In stimulate to simplify your accounting, you will certainly break the process of power flow right into three parts. Usage the diagrams and also text below to overview your steps. If the process is continuous, and not step-by-step, this activity will assist you to separate out the details and create an power "account."Before you begin you will must gather 100 pennies, paper squares, poker chips, Lego, or small cubes to aid you through your accounting. Girlfriend will likewise need 3 fancy pencils: red, blue, and orange. Once you have actually the necessary supplies, download and print this power Balance recording paper (Acrobat (PDF) 1MB Dec3 18) and a copy that the energy Balance indict (Acrobat (PDF) 2.6MB Mar29 13) to review as you occupational through the lab.

Once you have actually gathered your materials, you will review a ar of the published instructions and then move pennies representing the energy from one place to the next.

Overview of energy PathwaysBegin this task by gaining review of the energy pathways. Utilizing the graphic shown above, identify the just arrived solar radiation. Top top your published version that the graphic, shade the incoming radiation blue. Next, shade the arrows representing outgoing radiation red, and also the latent and also sensible warmth 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 relocating through space; shower our planet and also its atmosphere. The radiation that arrives at the peak of the environment is either reflected or absorbed.

Start through 100 objects (i.e., pennies). Separate them into 5 columns on a piece of document as follows. This pennies represent 100 percent that the solar energy coming native the sun, or 100 units. Stack the pennies according to what happens to each unit of energy as the travels v the atmosphere on its way to Earth's surface, together is diagrammed above.

23 systems = reflect by the clouds and atmosphere7 devices = reflected by the Earth's surface19 devices = absorbed by the environment (ozone, aerosols, dust)4 devices = soaked up by clouds47 systems = absorbed by the planet surfaces (primarily ocean)

Next, add up and also record the full units in your student notebook.Total the pennies the were reflected; you should have 30.

Part 2. Surface power Budget

In component 1, you saw that around 30 percent of incoming sunlight is reflected earlier to room by particles in the environment or bright soil surfaces, i beg your pardon leaves about 70 percent come be took in by the atmosphere (23 percent) and Earth's surface ar (47 percent) including the ocean. Because that the energy spending plan at Earth's surface ar to balance, processes on the surface should transfer and transform the 47 percent of incoming solar energy that the ocean and also land surfaces soaked up back right into the atmosphere and also eventually space. Power leaves the surface through three vital processes: evaporation, convection, and also emission of heat infrared (IR) radiation.

Transfer the 47 pennies, which stand for the soaked up energy in the earth system, come a new piece that paper. This energy, which has actually been took in by the surface ar of the Earth, will now be transferred back to the environment via numerous processes. To represent this, stack the pennies in four brand-new columns as follows.

24 systems = latent heat: energy that is offered in evaporation, transpiration, and also condensation 5 devices = wise heat: power that cd driver convection 12 units = emitted from planet directly ago to space 6 units = network radiation amount soaked up by setting
This is the long-wave radiation that is emitted indigenous Earth's surface ar to the setting (116), minus the energy that is directly transferred to room (12) an unified with that which re-radiated back to earth by the atmosphere (98). The equation would certainly be: <116-(12+98)>= 6

Part 3. The Atmosphere's energy BudgetThe 3rd step of the procedure moves the power from the atmosphere ago to space, through the adhering to processes.

Collect the 19 and also 4 pennies, i m sorry were took in by the atmosphere and clouds.Collect the 24 and 5 pennies the were transferred to the atmosphere via latent and also sensible heat.Collect the 6 pennies that continued to be in the atmosphere.Move this 58 pennies to two remaining areas in the complying with amounts:

49 units = emitted by the atmosphere9 systems = emitted through clouds

Total the 3 boxes ~ above the top-right that the sheet. These space units of long-wave radiation transferred by the atmosphere back into space.
Return come the energy Flow interactive, above. Review the interactive one more time v the power accountant actions in mind. Then answer the Stop and also Think inquiries below.

Stop and also Think

1. Currently that you have worked through the Earth's energy balance, comment on how alters in Earth's surface characteristics and / or atmospheric composition could add to global warming or cooling.2. Complete the complying with phrases and include one of her own:

More radiation = _______ warmingLess have fun = _______ warmingMore absorb = ________ warming______________ = ________________

How execute we know what us know?

Measuring Earth's radiation balance is an enormous and also important task! How deserve to we accurately and simultaneously know how much energy is coming into the earth system, being reflected through clouds, and also being emitted back to space? To acquire a global understanding the this balance scientists use tools on satellites. The following video clip explains how the Clouds and also the Earth's Radiant energy System (CERES) sensors ~ above NASA's Aqua and Terra satellites measure up Earth's energy balance.

Optional Extension

The CERES mission homepage contains more information about how NASA science objectives are measuring Earth's power balance. Extr background information, datasets, and also details around Earth's energy Balance have the right to be found at the complying with links:

NWS Jetstream - The Earth-Atmosphere energy Balance website has added explanations, diagrams and a quick explanation of how cloud sheathe can contribute to warmer night time temperatures.

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The devices on the diagrams in this exercise space in terms of percentages the the just arrive 342 watts per meter2 the solar energy. This percentages might not be precisely the very same in every diagram, as there is part variation in scientists' explanation about how much power is in each component of the system.

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