Lab Instructions: The Earth's Radiation Budget

Jim Hays, Columbia University, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

This link to a course syllabus contains two weeks of these lab exercises; look under the lab sessions for week 2 and 3. These laboratory exercises from an introductory course on the Climate System are designed to help students become comfortable with physical experiments, to use experiments to increase their understanding of physical concepts, and to familiarize them with actual datasets used in climate research. Two physical experiments are performed with a light source and solar cells to attempt a crude replication of the Earth-Sun shortwave radiation system. Students are asked to explore why temperature varies with latitude and season, and how different properties of the earth's surface affect the incoming and outgoing radiation. Students use an Excel spreadsheet to plot current intensity with latitude. The data sets come from The Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE) and were collected using the satellites: ERBS, NOAA-9, and NOAA-10. The data are organized by satellite, and by variable. Data types are clear-sky, cloud-forcing(the difference between clear-sky and cloudy-sky radiation), and total. Variables are albedo, longwave radiation, shortwave radiation, and net radiation.

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Subject: Geoscience:Atmospheric Science:Climatology
Resource Type: Activities:Lab Activity, Datasets and Tools:Datasets
Special Interest: Global/National Issue
Grade Level: College Upper (15-16), College Lower (13-14)
Use: Illustrating concepts and ideas
Theme: Teach the Earth:Incorporating Societal Issues:Climate Change, Teach the Earth:Course Topics:Atmospheric Science