Introducing Physical Geography (Wse)

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Chapter 2 The Earth’s Global Energy Balance This chapter focuses on solar radiation which flows through the atmosphere to the Earth’s surface. This energy is responsible for driving the Earth’s physical and biological systems. The Earth’s energy balance is accounted for by the difference in the flow of energy reaching the Earth’s surface and the flow of energy emitted by the Earth’s surface. Solar energy is the driving force for most natural phenomena at the Earth’s surface. Electromagnetic radiation is a spectrum of wavelengths emitted by all objects maintaining temperatures greater than absolute zero (0°Kelvin). Two principles that govern the emission of electromagnetic radiation are: Hot objects radiate more total energy than cooler objects. Hot objects radiate energy at lower wavelengths. The sun is a star of average size with a nuclear fusion (four hydrogen atoms fused into helium) generated surface temperature of approximately 6000° C. The solar constant is the amount of energy received per square meter of Earth’s upper (1370 watts per square meter; 1370 W/m 2 ). The sun emits a large amount of energy concentrated in the ultraviolet , visible, and shortwave infrared wavelengths. This spectrum collection is called short wave radiation. The Earth is much cooler than the sun. It therefore emits
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ch_02_sum_erth_energy_bal - Chapter 2 The Earth's Global...

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