the intensity of solar radiation on Earth, if the planet had no atmosphere, in the area at right angles with the Earth would be 2 calories per sq centimeter per minute
Where is the Solar Constant Approached
Between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn where the Sun is at a right Angle to the Earth
Does the actual solar constant ever occur on Earth?
No, because the atmosphere gets in the way. The closest one can get is 1.6 cal/cm2/min at the equator at noon on either the vernal or autumnal equinox.
How does solar heat vary along the Earth’s latitudes?
Hottest/ most powerful at the equator and least powerful at the poles. Also affected by the rotation of the Earth (night/day)
How does Earth maintain its constant temperature (16 deg C)
Heat Budget – the Earth must re-radiate as much heat back into space as it receives from the Sun
Where does the majority of the Earth’s re-radiation come from?
From the Earth’s atmosphere (59.5 units of the 65 that make it to the Earth’s surface)
What part of the Earth absorbs the most radiation from the sun?
The Earth’s surface (absorbs 47.5 of the incoming units but only loses 5.5 units back into space)
How does the Earth’s surface cool itself and transfer solar radiation from the surface to the atmosphere so that it can finally be sent back out into space?
Evaporation (29.5) Conduction and Re-radiation (12.5) – sent back to the atmosphere as heat and will raise the temperature of the air.
Does the heat balance actually balance at every point on Earth’s surface (separately)?
No. More heat is gained in the equatorial latitudes and more is lost in the polar latitudes
Temperature variation in the oceans
Summer heat is transferred downward by the currents and in winter, heat is transferred up. Tropics: 0-2 deg C Middle: 5-8 C Polar: 2-4 C
How is heat energy transferred between the Earth and the atmosphere and what does this transfer do?
Convective Motion produces the winds and the waves and currents
What is the basic structure of the atmosphere?
nearly homogeneous mixture of gasses extending nearly 90km (54mi) above Earth. 99% of the mixture is contained in the first 30km (18mi) and 90% is in the first 15km (9mi)
What is the lowest layer of the atmosphere and what are some characteristics?
Troposphere Temperature decreases with altitude from the mean Earth temp of 16C to -60C at 12km (7mi). The Tropopause marks the minimum temperature zone between the troposhere and the layer above it, the stratosphere. The tropopause is warmed from below by the heat energy from Earth’s surface This layer includes wind systems, clouds, precipitation, etc. Ozone appears mostly in this layer
What is the second layer of the atmosphere and some characteristics?
The Stratosphere Temperature increases with increasing altitude until 50km (30mi) or the stratopause.
What is Ozone?
A highly reactive form of oxygen occurring mostly in the troposphere. O3 Absorbs ultraviolet radiation and protects the Earth
Third layer of the atmosphere and characteristics?
Mesosphere the temperature again decreases because there is little to absorb solar radiation Number of molecules per cubic centimeter is reduced by 1000 and the pressure is 1/1000 of Earth’s surface pressure. Mesosphere extends from 50km to 90km
the Last (fourth) layer of the atmosphere and characteristics?
Thermosphere Extends out into space
What controls the density of the air
Temperature (warm air lighter) Amount of water vapor in the air (moist air lighter) Altitude (higher the altitude, lighter the air)
Why is moist air lighter than dry air?
The water vapors replace the permanent gases which have a higher molecular weight
What causes atmospheric convective motion?
Changes in density – air that is lower in the atmosphere weighs more and is more dense because it has the air on top of it pressing it down
How are atmospheric gases categorized?
Permanent and Variable Permanent gases have a constant relative percentage of the atmosphere’s total volume while the concentration of the variable gas changes with time and location.
Is the force with which a column of overlying air presses on an area of the Earth’s surface.
What is the average atmospheric pressure at sea level?
1013.25 milibars 14.7 lb/in2
What is the practical difference between low and high pressure zones?
Low pressure zones contain areas of rising air High pressure zones are areas of descending air
What are the reservoirs for CO2?
Three active the atmosphere (lowest concentration) the oceans (highest concentration) the terrestrial system
geological reservoir in the Earth’s crust
In the late spring and summer CO2 production decreases as plants increase photosynthesis and produce more oxygen using CO2 during the fall and winter CO2 production is increased as plants die and the decay process releases Co2
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deforestation and human development is disrupting this natural cycle
Impact of increased CO2 levels
there is almost twice as much Co2 in the atmosphere today as there was in 1850. This increase will reduce the surface heat lost to space by long-wave radiation and the radiation will be absorbed into the atmosphere increasing the temperature
The annual world production of CO2 from fossil fuels and the burning of tropical forests is estimated at …
approximately 7 billion tons
The Kyoto Pact
calls for thirty-eight industrial nations to cut their emissions of greenhouse gases by an average of 5.2% from 1990 levels by the year 2012 US did not ratify the treaty
Possible effects of global warming?
Increase of sea level by 1m (3ft) Changes in ocean circulation Alteration of Earth’s climate patterns
Antarctic Ozone Hole
Created by low temperatures in the stratosphere (-80C) which make the temps low enough for clouds to form size and shape of hole change from year to year
Chlorine Theory of Atmosphere Destruction and Methyl Bromide
Chlorine is trapped in the atmosphere and then it attacks the ozone. Methyl Bromide is apparently worse.
The deflection of moving objects in a rotating frame of reference (i.e. the object appears, but does not actually, deviate from its path).
Wind systems that occur in the tropics. Northeasterly in the northern Hemisphere and southeasterly in the southern hemisphere.
The control of precipitation patterns due to elevation changes (i.e. the reason Death Valley exists)
Centered over zones of sinking and rising air near 50-60N+S and 30N and 30S