Our World 's Climate Is A Blanket That Covers The Earth Essay

1295 WordsSep 18, 20166 Pages
Our world’s climate depends on a balance between the incoming and outgoing energies. The vast majority of incoming energy is from the Sun, approximately 29% of incoming solar radiation is reflected back into outer space while 23% is absorbed by the atmosphere and 48% by the surface of the earth. Thus, the Earth system absorbs roughly 71% of incoming solar energy. The Earth’s surface and atmosphere also radiate thermal infrared energy in order to balance the absorbed solar radiation. This process of reflection, absorption, and thermal radiation constructs the Earth’s habitable environment. There are factors, man-made and natural, that can change this balance such as variations in the Sun’s energy, changes in the Earth’s reflective surface, and changes in the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect can be described as a blanket that covers the Earth, which consists of various gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2), water vapor (H2O), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and F-gases. For hundreds of thousands of years, the climate and greenhouse gas density have had a parallel correlation. During glacial periods, CO2 levels were lower than they were during the warmer interglacial periods. In other words, the Earth was cooler when the greenhouse gases were thinner and it was warmer when they were denser. Another important part of understanding climate change is to know the differences between climate variability and climate change. Climate variability means the way that climate
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