Please refer to the GETTING STARTED lab module to learn tips on how to set up and maneuver through the Google Earth () component of this lab.


The following is a list of important words and concepts used in this lab module:


Energy deficit

Longwave radiation


Energy surplus

Net radiation (net flux)


Global energy budget


Constant gases


Radiation budget

Electromagnetic radiation

Heat transfer

Shortwave radiation

Electromagnetic spectrum

Incoming and outgoing radiation

Solar constant

Electromagnetic waves


Solar radiation



Variable gases


After successfully completing this module, you should be able to:

œ Recognize aspects of the electromagnetic spectrum

œ Distinguish between shortwave and longwave radiation and its sources

œ Describe the composition of the atmosphere

œ Explain how heat is transferred and measured

œ Define and identify patterns of global solar insolation and albedo

œ Describe the flow of solar radiation

œ Describe the spatial patterns of net radiation

œ Provide examples of human interactions and uses with sunlight (solar radiation)



In this lab module you will examine some of the fundamental concepts and principles related to global energy. Topics include the electromagnetic spectrum, the composition of the atmosphere, solar radiation, the movement of radiation in the atmosphere, albedo and the global energy budget. While these topics may seem disparate, you will learn how they are inherently related.

The module starts with four opening topics, or vignettes, which are found in the accompanying Google Earth file. These vignettes introduce basic concepts related to global energy. Some of the vignettes have animations, videos, or short articles that provide another perspective or visual explanation for the topic at hand. After reading each vignette and associated links, answer the following questions. Please note that some components of this lab may take a while to download or open, especially if you have a slow internet connection.

Expand GLOBAL ENERGY and then expand the INTRODUCTION folder.

Read Topic 1: Electromagnetic Radiation.

Question 1: Which electromagnetic waves have the most energy?

A. Radio waves

B. Microwaves

C. X-rays

D. Gamma rays

Question 2: How is Earthfs radiation budget described in the video?

A. The difference between sunlight that comes into the Earth, minus the amount of sunlight that is reflected by, and energy emitted from, the Earth

B. The difference between sunlight that is reflected by Earth, minus the energy emitted, plus the sunlight coming into the Earth

C. The difference between energy emitted by the Earth, minus the sunlight coming into the Earth, minus the sunlight reflected by the Earth

D. The difference between energy emitted by the Earth, minus the sunlight coming into the Earth, plus the sunlight reflected by the Earth

Read Topic 2: Atmospheric Composition.

Question 3: What are the three ingredients needed for an ozone hole?


A. Warm temperatures, sunlight, and high levels of smog

B. Cold temperatures, darkness, and high levels of smog

C. High level of chlorine and bromine, warm temperatures, and sunlight

D. High level of chlorine and bromine, cold temperatures, and sunlight

Read Topic 3: Transfer of Heat Energy.

Question 4: Which of the following is not true regarding the transfer of heat energy?

A. Air conducts heat effectively

B. Dark-colored objects absorb more radiant energy than light-colored objects

C. Convection is the transfer of heat energy in the atmosphere

D. Sunlight is a form of radiation

Question 5: Of these means of transferring heat, which tend directly produce weather systems?

A. Radiation

B. Conduction

C. Convection

D. None of these

Read Topic 4: Human Interaction.

Question 6: From the article, all of the following are recognized disadvantages of generating electricity from solar power except?

A. The amount of pollution generated

B. Cost

C. Daylight hours for operation

D. Locations with low available sunlight

Question 7: From the map in the article, what area of the United States shows the highest annual average daily solar radiation per month (measured in kWh/m2/day)?

A. Northeastern United States

B. Southeastern United States

C. Southwestern United States

D. Northwestern United States


For the rest of this module, you will identify and explain the geographic distribution, patterns, and processes associated with electromagnetic radiation. In doing so, you will recognize and appreciate the role of the Sun, atmosphere and the Earthfs surface as they influence the worldfs global energy budget.

Collapse and uncheck the INTRODUCTION folder.


Insolation (incoming solar radiation) is the amount of direct or diffused electromagnetic radiation the Earth receives from the Sun. Insolation can be quantified by its irradiance, which is the power . or rate of electromagnetic radiation – that strikes the surface of a given area. As power is measured in Watts (W), and area is measured in meters squared (m2), irradiance is commonly measured in Watts per meter squared (W/m2).

The Sun produces a fairly constant rate of solar radiation at the outer surface of the Earthfs atmosphere; this solar constant averages to approximately 1370 W/m2. However, the average amount of solar radiation received at any one location on the Earth is not ~1370 W/m2 . it is far less, due in part to the conditions of the atmosphere, the land cover, the given latitude, the time of day, and the time of year.

Expand the GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE folder and select Insolation in June. To close the citation, click the X in the top right corner of the window.

This map shows the average global solar insolation . or where and how much sunlight fell on the Earthfs surface – for the month of June in 2012. The legend in the top left corner shows how much sunlight fell on Earthfs surface, which ranges from a low of 0 W/m2 (purple/dark red) to a high of 550 W/m2 (white). Use this map layer to answer the following questions.

Double-click and select Location A.

Question 8: What is the approximate latitude of Location A (Oslo, Norway)?

A. 60N

B. 60S

C. 10E

D. 10W


Question 9: Estimate the average solar insolation Location A (Oslo, Norway) received in June:

A. Near 0 W/m2

B. Near 275 W/m2



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