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Web based exercise using interactive maps & computer videos

PURPOSE: The purpose of this web-based laboratory exercise is to review the fate of solar energy as it passes through the earth’s atmosphere and contacts the earth’s surface.
We know that temperatures at the earth’s surface vary in space and time. Here we consider the global and local factors that influence temperature, we compare trends throughout a day and throughout a year, and compare temperatures between continental and maritime locations.

1. Global Energy Patterns

A) The solar energy that reaches the earth’s surface is either absorbed or reflected. Go to:
Look at the first image (run the animation), the Net Short-Wave Radiation file.
After examining the image, explain the relationship between net shortwave radiation (the images) and insolation. /2

B) Now look at the Net Radiation on the same website, which combines short and long wavelengths. In the December view, we know that the Southern hemisphere is tilted towards the sun, and south of the Antarctic circle there is daylight for 24 hours a day, but Antarctica is still barely ‘soaking up’ the sun. One reason for this is that the angle of the sun on Antarctica is still fairly acute. What is another reason why Antarctica is only slightly above a positive net radiation at this time of year? /1

C) The proportion of insolation that is reflected or absorbed varies according to the physical properties (color, texture etc.) of the surface. Albedo is a measure of the reflectivity (intrinsic brightness) of a surface. A surface with high albedo will have high reflection and low absorption of insolation. Use your textbook to list some natural Earth surfaces that have high albedo and some that have low albedo. /6

Low Albedo High Albedo

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