Before any conversation about weather or climate can begin, we need to begin with some astronomy and some physics. We need an understanding of our Earth-Sun relationship, how the relationship moderates energy, and what happens when the Sun’s energy reaches the Earth. Our weather is product of atmospheric gases, terrestrial (Earth) surfaces, and how those gases and surfaces are affected by solar radiation.
The first unit introduces terms like weather, climate, meteorology. The atmosphere has many layers which will be enumerated. Each of these layers contain variable and permanent gases and other properties which make them peculiar.
Solar radiation is the dominant source of energy for the Earth. Often, the atmosphere is described as a being driven by a heat engine. The heat engine, powered by the Sun, is the constant circulation of energy between the Earth’s surface and the Earth’s atmosphere. The second unit explores the nature of our solar energy, electromagnetic radiation, and the radiation interacting with our atmosphere.
Our Earth shuffles energy throughout the atmosphere and between the Earth’s surface and the atmosphere. Three primary transactions move energy in our environment, radiation, convection, and conduction. The energy I refer to is heat. Heat is essentially the movement of atoms and molecules within a substance, and between. The energy can be measured in many ways, like temperature. Heat can be stored (latent heat) and released (sensible heat). The third unit explores the transmission of energy in our atmosphere.
The transmission of energy in our atmosphere manifests as the movement of air masses, the movement of winds and breezes. Movement of air masses occurs due to differential heating of different terrestrial surfaces. Snow and ice heat differently than sandy, rocky surfaces. Water heats differently than land, sea water heats differently than freshwater, desert heats differently than forests. Unit four explores the internal energy relationships among the different environments of our Earth.
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