Energy and Temperature

Energy is received by the Earth from the Sun but not all of the energy which reaches the Earth directly heats our atmosphere. Some energy is scattered back into space, some is absorbed by the atmosphere, some reaches the surface and is reflected or scattered, and some of the incoming radiation is absorbed. If that sounds complicated, yes, you are correct. The interaction of incoming solar radiation and the Earth’s atmosphere is complicated and is fundamentally what the course is about.

We will examine the differences between Conduction and Convection, and Sensible Heat and Latent Heat. If you get those two differences down, the concepts behind weather and climate are within your grasp.

Study Questions

  1. How does the absorption of radiation affect the atmosphere?
  2. What has a greater albedo, grassland or fresh snow?
  3. How do reflecting, scattering, and radiation affect the warming of the atmosphere?
  4. What are the differences between Rayleigh, Mie, and Non-selective Scattering?
  5. Given 100 units of “energy” or “insolation” is available at the top of the atmosphere, how does the energy get distributed throughout the atmosphere?
  6. How is the absorption of long-wave radiation important to atmospheric warming?
  7. How does conduction alter atmospheric temperature?
  8. How does Free Convection and Forced Convection affect atmospheric warming?
  9. What is the difference between “Sensible Heat” and “Latent Heat?”
  10. Why is “latent heat of evaporation” more influential than the “latent heat of fusion?”
  11. How does latitude affect heat and global energy balance?
  12. What would happen if the Earth’s “greenhouse gases” did not exist?
  13. What might happen to the Earth’s atmosphere if “greenhouse gases” build-up?
  14. Using “isotherms” what are the 3 Patterns of large-scale global temperatures?
  15. What is the general relationship between latitude and temperature?
  16. What is the general relationship between altitude and temperature?
  17. Why is the difference between the conservation of heat in land and the conservation of heat in water such an important notion?
  18. How can warm and cool ocean currents influence weather and climates along coasts?
  19. How can local conditions such as slope, aspect, and vegetation affect local weather conditions?
  20. In terms of heating and cooling what changes happens to temperatures on a cloudless day?
  21. How can wind and cloud cover generally influence local atmospheric conditions?
  22. What types of routines and measurements are used in collecting temperature information?
  23. What sorts of descriptive statistics are useful for communicating temperature?
  24. How is the notion of Wind Chill useful?
  25. How are “heating degree days” and “cooling degree days” determined?
  26. Why are “heating degree days” and “cooling degree days” useful to some industries?
  27. How are vertical temperature profiles of the atmosphere created?
  28. What is the IPCC?
  29. Why was the IPCC created?
  30. What were some of the findings of the IPCC 2007 climate report?
  31. Why is the study of atmospheric temperature extremes an important endeavor?
  32. What do Global Climate Models (GCM) suggest about the effects of Greenhouse Gases (GhG) on global climates?

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