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

Solar strength drives Earth's climate. Power from the sunlight heats Earth's surface, warms the atmosphere, provides power for photosynthesis, causes evaporation, cd driver the weather and water cycles, and powers the s currents. In the astronaut photograph at right, taken native the International room Station, you can see the sun setup through the atmosphere.When we look up in ~ the sky from the ground, the setting seems to go on forever, however in fact it is extremely thin when contrasted to the diameter the Earth. To acquire a sense of the thickness of the troposphere and also stratosphere, two important layers the the atmosphere, shot this basic exercise. Use a compass to draw a circle v a radius the 127 mm. This circle represents the Earth and the inner-most atmosphere. The 1 mm line, the your pencil draws, represents the typical thickness of the the very first two layers of the atmosphere: the troposphere, the an ar of weather, and the stratosphere, i beg your pardon protects united state from many of the Sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation. As you job-related through the this labs keep this family member scale in mind.

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In order to simplify your accounting, you will break the procedure of energy flow right into three parts. Usage the diagrams and text below to guide your steps. If the process is continuous, and not step-by-step, this task will assist you to separate out the details and create an power "account."Before you begin you will must gather 100 pennies, record squares, poker chips, Lego, or small cubes to help you through your accounting. You will additionally need 3 colored pencils: red, blue, and also orange. Once you have actually the needed supplies, download and also print this power Balance recording paper (Acrobat (PDF) 1MB Dec3 18) and also a copy that the energy Balance indict (Acrobat (PDF) 2.6MB Mar29 13) to read as you work-related 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 ar to the next.

Overview of power PathwaysBegin this task by gaining summary of the energy pathways. Using the graphic displayed above, recognize the just arrived solar radiation. ~ above your published version of the graphic, shade the just arrive radiation blue. Next, shade the arrows representing outgoing radiation red, and also the latent and also sensible heat arrows orange. You have now be separate the incoming and outgoing radiation.Part 1. Incoming Solar Radiation

Solar energy, in the type of radiation, is constantly moving through space; bathing our planet and also its atmosphere. The radiation the arrives at the peak of the atmosphere is either reflected or absorbed.

Start with 100 objects (i.e., pennies). Separate them into five columns on a item of document as follows. This pennies stand for 100 percent of the solar energy coming native the sun, or 100 units. Ridge the pennies according to what happens to every unit of energy as it travels with the atmosphere on its method to Earth's surface, as is diagrammed above.

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

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

Part 2. Surface energy Budget

In component 1, you saw that around 30 percent that incoming sunlight is reflected back to room by particles in the atmosphere or bright ground surfaces, i m sorry leaves about 70 percent come be took in by the setting (23 percent) and also Earth's surface (47 percent) including the ocean. Because that the energy budget at Earth's surface ar to balance, procedures on the surface have to transfer and transform the 47 percent of incoming solar power that the ocean and also land surfaces absorbed back into the atmosphere and eventually space. Energy leaves the surface ar through three vital processes: evaporation, convection, and also emission of heat infrared (IR) radiation.

Transfer the 47 pennies, which represent the took in energy in the planet system, to a new piece that paper. This energy, which has actually been soaked up by the surface ar of the Earth, will now be transferred back to the environment via number of processes. To represent this, ridge the pennies in four new columns as follows.

24 units = implicitly heat: energy that is used in evaporation, transpiration, and also condensation 5 units = wise heat: energy that drives convection 12 devices = emitted from planet directly back to space 6 systems = net radiation amount took in by setting
This is the long-wave radiation that is emitted indigenous Earth's surface ar to the environment (116), minus the power that is directly transferred to room (12) merged with the which re-radiated earlier to earth by the environment (98). The equation would certainly be: <116-(12+98)>= 6

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

Collect the 19 and 4 pennies, which were soaked up by the atmosphere and also clouds.Collect the 24 and also 5 pennies that were moved to the atmosphere via latent and also sensible heat.Collect the 6 pennies that remained in the atmosphere.Move this 58 pennies to two remaining places in the adhering to amounts:

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

Total the three boxes ~ above the top-right the the sheet. These are units of long-wave radiation transferred by the atmosphere ago into space.
Return come the energy Flow interactive, above. Evaluation the interactive one an ext time through the energy accountant actions in mind. Then answer the Stop and Think questions below.

Stop and Think

1. Currently that girlfriend have functioned through the Earth's power balance, talk about how changes in Earth's surface ar characteristics and also / or atmospheric composition could add to worldwide warming or cooling.2. Finish the following phrases and add one of your own:

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

How execute we understand what we know?

Measuring Earth's radiation balance is an enormous and also important task! How have the right to we accurately and simultaneously know exactly how much energy is coming right into the earth system, gift reflected through clouds, and being emitted earlier to space? To gain a global understanding the this balance scientists use instruments on satellites. The following video explains just how the Clouds and also 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 about how NASA science missions are measure up Earth's energy balance. Added background information, datasets, and details around Earth's energy Balance can be discovered at the complying with links:

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

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The units on the diagrams in this exercise room in terms of percentages that the incoming 342 watt per meter2 that solar energy. This percentages might not be exactly the exact same in every diagram, together there is part variation in scientists' explanation about how much energy is in each part of the system.

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