Radiant Energy Flow

Explore the energy balance between incoming and outgoing radiation on the earth.

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How does energy flow in and out of our atmosphere? Explore how solar and infrared radiation enters and exits the atmosphere with an interactive model. Control the amounts of carbon dioxide and clouds present in the model and learn how these factors can influence global temperature. Record results using snapshots of the model in the virtual lab notebook where you can annotate your observations.

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WARNING: Your data will not be saved. To save data, run this activity as a registered user. You can register at the project portal. Please view the requirements below before launching this activity.

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008)

1. The Nature of Science

1A. The Scientific Worldview
  • 1A/M4c*. By the end of the 8th grade, students should know that science can sometimes be used to inform ethical decisions by identifying the likely consequences of particular actions, but science cannot be used by itself to establish that an action is moral or immoral.
1C. The Scientific Enterprise
  • 1C/M6*. By the end of the 8th grade, students should know that computers have become invaluable in science, mathematics, and technology because they speed up and extend people's ability to collect, store, compile, and analyze data; prepare research reports; and share data and ideas with investigators all over the world.

4. The Physical Setting

4B. The Earth
  • 4B/H2*. By the end of the 12th grade, students should know that transfer of thermal energy between the atmosphere and the land or oceans produces temperature gradients in the atmosphere and the oceans. Regions at different temperatures rise or sink or mix, resulting in winds and ocean currents. These winds and ocean currents, which are also affected by the earth's rotation and the shape of the land, carry thermal energy from warm to cool areas.
  • 4B/H4** (SFAA). By the end of the 12th grade, students should know that greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide and water vapor, are transparent to much of the incoming sunlight but not to the infrared light from the warmed surface of the earth. When greenhouse gases increase, more thermal energy is trapped in the atmosphere, and the temperature of the earth increases the light energy radiated into space until it again equals the light energy absorbed from the sun.
  • 4B/H6** (SFAA). By the end of the 12th grade, students should know that the earth's climates have changed in the past, are currently changing, and are expected to change in the future, primarily due to changes in the amount of light reaching places on the earth and the composition of the atmosphere. The burning of fossil fuels in the last century has increased the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which has contributed to Earth's warming.
4E. Energy Transformations
  • 4E/M2*. By the end of the 8th grade, students should know that energy can be transferred from one system to another (or from a system to its environment) in different ways: 1) thermally, when a warmer object is in contact with a cooler one; 2) mechanically, when two objects push or pull on each other over a distance; 3) electrically, when an electrical source such as a battery or generator is connected in a complete circuit to an electrical device; or 4) by electromagnetic waves.
  • 4E/M3*. By the end of the 8th grade, students should know that thermal energy is transferred through a material by the collisions of atoms within the material. Over time, the thermal energy tends to spread out through a material and from one material to another if they are in contact. Thermal energy can also be transferred by means of currents in air, water, or other fluids. In addition, some thermal energy in all materials is transformed into light energy and radiated into the environment by electromagnetic waves; that light energy can be transformed back into thermal energy when the electromagnetic waves strike another material. As a result, a material tends to cool down unless some other form of energy is converted to thermal energy in the material.
  • 4E/M6**. By the end of the 8th grade, students should know that light and other electromagnetic waves can warm objects. How much an object's temperature increases depends on how intense the light striking its surface is, how long the light shines on the object, and how much of the light is absorbed.

11. Common Themes

11A. Systems
  • 11A/M2. By the end of the 8th grade, students should know that thinking about things as systems means looking for how every part relates to others. The output from one part of a system (which can include material, energy, or information) can become the input to other parts. Such feedback can serve to control what goes on in the system as a whole.
11B. Models
  • 11B/M1*. By the end of the 8th grade, students should know that models are often used to think about processes that happen too slowly, too quickly, or on too small a scale to observe directly. They are also used for processes that are too vast, too complex, or too dangerous to study.
  • 11B/M2. By the end of the 8th grade, students should know that mathematical models can be displayed on a computer and then modified to see what happens.
  • 11B/M4** (BSL). By the end of the 8th grade, students should know that simulations are often useful in modeling events and processes.
11C. Constancy and Change
  • 11C/M10**. By the end of the 8th grade, students should know that trends based on what has happened in the past can be used to make predictions about what things will be like in the future. However, these predictions may not always match what actually happens.

Copyright
© Copyright The Concord Consortium

Record Link
<a href="">The Concord Consortium. Radiant Energy Flow. Concord: The Concord Consortium, 2010, September 10.</a>

AIP
Radiant Energy Flow (The Concord Consortium, Concord, 2010, September 10), WWW Document, (https://concord.org/).

AJP
Radiant Energy Flow (The Concord Consortium, Concord, 2010, September 10), WWW Document, (https://concord.org/).

APA
Radiant Energy Flow. (2010, September 10). Retrieved 2017, March 24, from The Concord Consortium: https://concord.org/

Disclaimer: The Concord Consortium offers citation styles as a guide only. We cannot offer interpretations about citations as this is an automated procedure.

Requirements

This activity runs entirely in a Web browser. Preferred browsers are: Google Chrome (versions 30 and above), Safari (versions 7 and above), Firefox (version 30 and above), Internet Explorer (version 10 or higher), and Microsoft's Edge.

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Innovative Technology in Science InquiryThis resource is a part of the Concord Consortium's Innovative Technology in Science Inquiry project.

Grade Level
Middle School
Subject
Earth and Space Science
Focus Area
Modeling and Simulation
Rating
0
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