You are on page 1of 6

Energy Balance

Solar radiation: 99.9% of heat on Earth, drives weather and climate The difference in
Unequal heating of Earth causes circulation of atmospheric and oceanic currents wavelengths occurs
because wavelength of
emitted radiation is
Global Energy Balance: balance between amount of insolation (input), and outgoing terrestrial
inversely proportional
radiation (output) returned to space so that Earth experiences no net gain or losses in energy to the temperature of
The Earth does not heat up or cool down over time, temperature remains stable the emitting body. (i.e.
However this doesnt apply to specific locations sun is hotter hence
There is either a net energy gain or loss at these places depending on latitude, so radiation is shorter in
transfer of energy from areas of surplus to areas of deficit is necessitated wavelength)

Energy Budget: annual balance of radiation input and output The atmosphere is
100 units of solar radiation is intercepted at atmospheres outer edge (input) largely transparent to
66 units are absorbed: Atmosphere absorbs 19 units, Earths surface absorbs 47 insolation but only a
units portion penetrates
Remaining 34 units are returned to space as short-wave energy directly. The rest meet
7 units are scattered by dust particles interference from
27 units are reflected: 21 units by clouds, 6 units by Earths surface atmospheric particles.
66 units radiated into space (longwave energy; output)
19 units radiated from atmosphere
14 units from surface at night (120 radiated from surface initially but 106 is
returned by water vapour + carbon dioxide)
10 units removed from wind
23 units removed by process of condensation

Long-wave Energy Flows (notes for diagram only)

Radiation from surface = 120 units (away from ground)
Returned by water vapour + carbon dioxide = 106 (towards ground)
Radiation at night to space = 14 (away from ground)
Removed by wind = 10 (away from ground)
Removed by condensation = 23 (away from ground)

Scattering: redirection of solar energy by gases and dust particles in atmosphere

Causes insolation passing through atmosphere to be scattered in many directions until it
reaches the surface or returns to space
Shorter waves scattered more than longer waves
Hence 7 units are scattered by dust particles in budget diagram

Reflection: process by which radiation is returned to atmosphere in short-wave form, becoming

part of Earths energy outflow
Most important form of loss of short-wave radiation from space to Earth
Less reflection = More absorption of radiation
a. Colour of surface: Lighter-colour reflect light, low absorption
b. Type of surface: Smooth, shiny surfaces reflect some light, regardless of colour.
Rough, uneven surfaces trap light.
Albedo, a surfaces reflectivity, consists of both factors.

Dark, wet soil: 5 - 15

S Albedo (%) Surface A
Dry concrete: 17 - 27
u l
Crops: 15 - 25
r b
f e
a d
c o
W 2-4 Black road surface U
a p
t t
e o
r 1
( 0




W 6 - 80 Grass 1
a 0
t -
e 3
r 0




F Up to 90 Deciduous Forest U
r p
e t
s o
h 2

O 40 - 70 Coniferous Forest 5
l -
d 1

D 35 - 45 Tundra 1
r 5
y -
s 2
a 0

Albedo of fresh snow is highest - up to 90%

Water shows greatest variation
Sun is high, insolation concentrated in smaller unit area = only 4%
Sun shines at low angle (i.e. dawn), albedo reaches up to 80%
Seas albedo is smaller than lands (water absorbs more energy)

Absorption: retainment of insolation energy by a substance (acts like reflection)

Prevents insolation from reaching ground Absorption, reflection
Significant absorbers of solar radiation: water vapour, oxygen, ozone (total about 19% of and scattering are the
solar radiation is absorbed) Big 3 (sources of
Gas molecules absorbs light waves energy transformed into internal insolation loss at
molecular motion, causing rise in temperature temperate/polar areas)
Short-wave radiation thus converted to long-wave radiation to warm atmosphere
(in minor amounts)
Oxygen absorbs shortwave ultraviolet radiation, ozone absorbs longwave
ultraviolet radiation in stratosphere

Infrared =/=
Greenhouse Effect: atmospheric effect
Terrestrial radiation
whereby gases such as carbon dioxide and
water vapour warm up the Earth by absorbing
Recall that the
and re-emitting infrared radiation (which has a
wavelength is
longer wavelength than terrestrial radiation)
inversely proportional
to the temperature of
Earth has lower surface temperature
the emitting agent
than sun, so terrestrial radiation is
emitted in longer wavelengths than
Greenhouse Gases =
carbon dioxide, water
vapour, nitrogen
The atmosphere is transparent to
insolation (it reaches Earth
unhindered) but absorptive to
outgoing terrestrial radiation (readily
absorbed by atmospheric particles)
This causes greenhouse effect
Warming is exacerbated
when re-emitted infrared
radiation is passed on
between Earths surface and
greenhouse gases
Some radiation escapes to
space at night to account for
energy lost

Poleward Heat Transfer: flow of latent heat and sensible heat from tropical to middle and high
latitudes in response to latitudinal imbalances in radiational heating and cooling.
Net radiation for whole Earth is 0
But latitudinal imbalance in radiation exists
Tropical areas receive most energy transferred to Earth
Equator receives 2.4x energy as that of poles
Polar areas receive less insolation due to low angle of incidence, albedo of
snow/ice, and thicker atmosphere for radiation to penetrate
Major equalising factor: transfer of heat by air movement that creates winds and drives
ocean currents, which in turn transport heat from tropics to poles to balance energy
These wind movements cause weather

Factors Affecting Temperature

1. Latitude (dominant; affects absorption of insolation) Insolation =/= hot (its

Beam Spreading Effect just energy)
Tropics: sun directly overhead so insolation is concentrated less beam
spreading, amount of radiation received per unit area is higher
Temperate/Polar Areas: insolation reaches surface at lower angle more State that as latitude
beam spreading, amount of radiation received per unit area lower increases, angle of
Density of atmosphere incidence decreases
Polar Areas: insolation passes through more atmosphere due to low
angle of approach more energy is absorbed, scattered or reflected
Polar Areas: higher as snow/ice is very reflective. Also, water reflects the Recall that albedo of
low angle sunlight more easily lower absorption water (angle of
incidence < 40) is 8%,
higher than 4% of high
angle sunlight

Latitudinal Radiation Balance: amount of radiation reaching and lost at different latitudes Net Radiation =
Net radiation = Incoming Radiation - Outgoing Radiation Radiation Balance
Longwave radiation emission = less variable than radiation input
= k (absolute temperature of emitting agent)
Thus higher in tropics and lower at poles (directly proportional
There is a need for redistribution of heat from areas of surplus to those of to absolute
deficit via advection (horizontal transfer of heat) from equator to poles, via temperature of
wind (75% of transfer) and ocean currents (25% of transfer) emitting agent)
Tropics: heat surplus, positive energy budget
Poles: heat deficit, negative energy budget
The reason why
theres a need

2. Proximity to Sea (regional) Water is translucent

Oceanic areas: less seasonal contrast in temperature than continental ones Land is opaque
Oceanic winters in mid-latitudes: sea air warmer than land air land
breeze brings heat to continental area warmer winter
Oceanic summers: sea air cooler than land air cooling effect For continental areas:
Reason for oceans moderating effect 1. July (northern)
Waters specific heat capacity (amount of energy needed to raise temperature of 2. January (southern)
1 kg of given substance by 1 deg) is 5x lands one
Ceteris paribus, water warms and cools slower as more energy must be gained or For oceanic areas:
lost to produce a given temperature change in it, than for land 1. August (northern)
2. February (southern)
Insolation penetrates water deeper and distributes energy across a larger mass.
The insolation absorbed by land heats only a thin opaque surface layer, leading to
higher concentration of hear

Vast quantity of water available for evaporation. Much energy is then used to
evaporate water, leaving less to warm water
+ Evaporation absorbs energy in the form of latent heat (required to convert liquid
to gas, without change in temperature), leaving less energy to warm water

Unlike solid land surfaces, water can be mixed vertically/ horizontally,

allowing energy surpluses from one area to flow to regions of lower
temperature heat more spread out
In the summer
Continental areas temperature reach a higher temperature than oceanic areas in
the same latitude, but fall quicker in winter

3. Altitude Simply recall that the

Temperature decreases with increasing altitude atmosphere is thinner
1 km rise in height = 10 deg decrease at higher heights,
Reason for pattern hence there are fewer
Low altitude: heat escapes from surface slowly as dense air contains dust particles particles to trap heat
and greenhouse gases which trap heat (people cant breathe
High altitude: atmosphere is thinner and traps less heat heat escapes on Mt. Everest)

4. Cloud Cover Rainforest area (high

Decreases insolation reaching Earth + outgoing terrestrial radiation that escapes Earth cloud cover): 30 deg in
More clouds = smaller diurnal temperature range day, 20 deg in night
Amount that clouds reflect vs. amount clouds trap Desert area (no
Depends on height of clouds and type (shape, form) clouds): 40 deg in day,
1 deg at night

5. Ocean Currents: a horizontal movement of seawater in the ocean

Affect coastal areas
Warm currents carrying high amounts of energy move poleward in western oceanic areas
near east coasts of continents in mid-latitudes (winter)
Transfer heat to atmosphere higher air temperatures
Cold currents carrying low amounts of energy move poleward near west coasts of
continents in mid-latitudes (summer)
Atmosphere transfers heat to water lower air temperatures
6. Aspect: direction a place faces Adret comes from
Affects mid-latitude areas droit (French for
Northern Hemisphere: adret (south-facing) slopes are warmer than ubac (north-facing) straight)
Adret slopes receive midday sunlight at more direct angle receive/absorb Ubac comes from
more energy that heats up surface obacus (Latin for
Southern Hemisphere: ubac (north-facing) slopes are warmer than adret (south-facing) shady)

Sensible Heat: heat energy that causes a change in temperature whenever released or absorbed
Transferred by convection in the atmosphere: heated air molecules move when wind is
generated by pressure gradient differences between places
Transferred by conduction to the ground: heat is transferred between molecules
Follows this path of movement:
Absorbed by ground Conduction Radiated by convection at night

Latent Heat: heat energy that is required to convert liquid to gas, without a change in temperature