Notebook With Question Mark Icon  
Peralta Colleges, Physical Geography
Rita D. Haberlin, Instructor

Section 1 - The Sun

  1. Why is the sun important?
  2. What is the sun composed of?
  3. What is the source of the sun's energy?
  4. In what form is the sun's energy?
  5. How long does it take for solar radiation to reach the earth's surface?
  6. What is the relationship between the temperature of a body and the intensity of energy and the size of wavelengths?
  7. What are the wavelengths of solar radiation?
  8. Name three forms of solar radiation.
  9. What do you understand by the term global radiation balance?

Section 2 - How the Sun Heats the Earth

  1. What is the solar constant?  What is its approximate value?
  2. How and why does average annual insolation vary between the equator and the poles?
  3. What are the two main factors that explain the differences in insolation reaching the earth's surface?
  4. What three factors determine the angle of the sun?
  5. What is diffuse radiation?  Why is the sky blue?
  6. On average, how much solar radiation do clouds reflect?
  7. What kinds of surfaces are most reflective and least reflective of solar radiation?
  8. What do you understand by the term albedo?  Which part of the earth has the greatest albedo?
  9. How much solar radiation is absorbed in the atmosphere by clouds, dust, and gas?
  10. What is the main source of heat for the atmosphere?
  11. What percentage of incoming solar radiation is absorbed by the earth's surface?

Section 3 - How the Earth Heats the Atmosphere

  1. How and why does temperature change with altitude?
  2. What is latent heat?  Where is it absorbed and where is it released?
  3. Name two forms of sensible heat.  How does each form warm the atmosphere?

Section 4. The Greenhouse Effect

  1. Why is the atmosphere often compared with a greenhouse?
  2. Name four greenhouse gases?  Which of these are most important?
  3. What is the relationship between fossil fuel burning and the greenhouse effect?
  4. How does the clearing and burning of vegetation increase the greenhouse effect?

Section 5. The Global Radiation Balance

  1. Which latitudes receive more insolation than they emit to space?
  2. Which latitudes emit more radiation than they receive?
  3. What is the role played by winds, ocean currents, and latent heat in the global radiation balance?


Return to Solar Radiation Learning Module