# ESCI 107/109 The Atmosphere Lesson 2 Solar and Terrestrial Radiation

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1 ESCI 107/109 The Atmosphere Lesson 2 Solar and Terrestrial Radiation Reading: Meteorology Today, Chapters 2 and 3 EARTH-SUN GEOMETRY The Earth has an elliptical orbit around the sun The average Earth-Sun distance is 93,000,000 mi (150,000,000 km) Aphelion the farthest Earth-Sun distance occurs in early July, and is about 94,000,000 mi. Perihelion the closest Earth-Sun distance occurs early January, and is about 91,000,000 mi. The difference between aphelion and perihelion is small compared to the overall distance between the earth and sun, and is not the cause of the seasons. Declination and sun angle The angle the Sun s rays make with the surface of the Earth is called the sun angle The Sun angle varies from place to place and from season to season. The Sun angle also changes throughout the day. Sun angle is zero at sunrise and sunset. Sun angle is maximum at local noon. Sun angle is negative at night (since Sun is below the horizon). To find the sun angle at noon we need to know the Sun s declination angle, and our latitude. We then use the formula Sun angle = 90 + declination latitude If the formula gives you a sun angle greater than 90, then subtract it from 180 The seasons (e.g., if the formula gives 130 then the sun angle is 50 ). Declinations and latitudes south of the equator are negative. The seasons occur because the Earth s axis is tilted 23 ½ with respect to the plane of its orbit. This means that the declination is not constant, but changes over the course of one year, from to 23.5 and back.

2 The change in maximum Sun angle over the course of the year is what results in the temperature difference between seasons. This is because: Sun angle determines how much energy per unit area strikes surface of the Earth. Lower Sun angle means less energy per area in beam. Lower Sun angle means rays travel through more atmosphere and lose more energy before striking the surface. Change in maximum Sun angle changes length of day and night Equinoxes occur when the declination is zero (the sun directly over the Equator). Solstices occur when the sun is at its maximum declination (either North or South) of 23.5 Astronomical seasons and climatological seasons are different: Astronomical seasons are defined from the solstices and equinoxes Winter Winter Solstice to Spring Equinox (Dec 21 Mar 21) Spring Spring Equinox to Summer Solstice (Mar 21- Jun 21) Summer Summer Solstice to Fall Equinox (Jun 21 Sep 21) Autumn Fall Equinox to Winter Solstice (Sep 21 Dec 21) Climatological seasons are defined from experience Winter December, January, February Spring March, April, May Summer June, July, August Autumn September, October, November ENERGY, HEAT, AND TEMPERATURE Energy is defined as the ability to do work. Types of energy Kinetic energy energy of motion Potential energy stored energy Thermal Energy is defined as the total kinetic energy of all the atoms and molecules that make up a substance. 2

4 SOLAR RADIATION The Sun emits at about 6000 K, while the earth emits at about 288 K. From Wien s displacement law The Sun emits its peak radiation at a wavelength of 0.460µm, which is in the visible part of the spectrum (blue light). The Earth emits its peak radiation at a wavelength of 10µm, which is in the IR part of the spectrum. From the Stefan-Boltzman law The Sun emits W m 2 of energy per unit area. The Earth emits 390 W m 2 of energy per unit area. Incoming solar radiation can be absorbed, reflected, or scattered by the atmosphere or Earth s surface. Absorption 20% absorbed directly in the atmosphere, primarily by ozone in the stratosphere, oxygen and nitrogen in the thermosphere, and water vapor and clouds in the troposphere. 50% absorbed by land and sea Reflection 30% reflected back to space by both clouds and the surface. Albedo is defined as the fraction of radiation reflected by a surface. The Albedo of the Earth is 0.3. Scattering Produces a bunch of weaker rays that move off in different directions. Scattering from small molecules is dependent of wavelength, with short wavelengths scattered more than longer wavelengths. This is the reason the sky is blue, and why sunsets are red! Scattering off of larger particles is not wavelength dependent. This is reason why clouds are white, and also why hazy days appear whitish. TERRESTRIAL RADIATION Earth emits IR radiation. 4

5 To balance the incoming solar radiation the earth must radiate at a temperature of about 255 K. But the surface of the earth averages about 288 K!!! Why? The atmosphere absorbs and reradiates much of the emitted IR radiation (the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse gases ο H 2 O Ever notice that humid nights are warmer than dry nights, or that deserts can be very cold at night? ο CO 2 ο N 2 O ο CH 4 ο O 3 Clouds have a dual role in the radiation balance of the earth. ο The reflect incoming solar radiation, keeping daytime temperatures lower. ο They absorb outgoing terrestrial radiation, keeping nighttime temperatures higher. Latitudinal heat balance ο Tropics have net surplus of heat. ο Polar Regions have net deficit of heat. ο Heat must be transported from tropics to poles. LATITUDINAL HEAT BALANCE IS WHAT DRIVES THE CIRCULATION OF THE ATMOSPHERE AND OCEANS. 5

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