Climate and Earth's Energy Balance
The primary drivers of climate are: incoming solar radiation, Earth's revolution and rotation, the surface features of the land, and the composition of the atmosphere. In this lab, you'll explore two of these controls, the incoming solar radiation and the composition of the atmosphere. You will view interactive graphics that show the distribution of Earth's energy budget and you will complete several labs that demonstrate how energy is trapped by atmospheric greenhouse gases and used to drive the water cycle. You'll develop a sense of how energy comes from the sun, what processes it drives, and how it is returned to space, keeping Earth's energy budget constantly changing, but balanced.
After completing this investigation, you should be able to:
- describe how incoming solar radiation is reflected, absorbed, and transferred throughout the Earth system;
- model Earth's energy flow and budget, both qualitatively and quantitatively;
- list the major greenhouse gases and their role in Earth's energy balance; and
- describe the role of the water cycle in maintaining Earth's energy budget.
Keeping Track of What You LearnIn these pages, you'll find three kinds of questions.
- Checking In questions are intended to keep you focused on key concepts. They allow you to check if the material is making sense. These questions are often accompanied by hints or answers to let you know if you are on the right track.
- Stop and Think questions are intended to help your teacher assess your understanding of the key concepts and skills. These questions require you to pull some concepts together or apply your knowledge in a new situation.
- Discuss questions are intended to get you talking with your neighbor. These questions require you to pull some concepts together or apply your knowledge in a new situation. There is no right answer to these questions; just something to ponder.