Climate #5: Radiant Energy

The sun radiates energy toward the earth, and the earth radiates much of that energy back. But some of it is blocked by carbon dioxide (CO2). The Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius theorized changing amounts of CO2 could therefore change the earth’s surface temperature.
Now, the equator is warm and the poles are cold, and we can demonstrate why this is by using a heat-sensitive ball and a hot light bulb. This is a major piece of the climate puzzle which we’ll connect in the coming segments.

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2 Comments on “Climate #5: Radiant Energy”

  1. Don Says:

    Your video had a lot of fun science in it.

    However, I think some of today’s video may lead to misconceptions.

    For example, Brian said “the Earth changes it’s angle”.
    This is not true, it is always 23 1/2/ degrees.

    Also, Brian said “the equator always stays about the same”, the equator is always at zero degrees.



    • Hi Don! Thanks for watching so closely and for helping us to clarify! We think the snag is between heliocentric and geocentric models; so let’s make sure that what Brian is saying doesn’t cause any confusion. The angle of the sun’s rays incident to the earth’s surface is where the change lies, because as you said, its angle relative to its own axis is relatively stable at about 23.5 degrees. However, as the earth precesses, the angle of any one point changes relative to the sun.

      As to the equator: we define it to be the zero degree latitude mark so you are perfectly correct that it is always zero degrees in that respect. What Brian is getting at here is that, due to the tilt of the earth on its axis and its precession on its axis, it’s not always at a zero degree angle to the sun – it wobbles a bit as the earth spins.

      We’re so glad that you took this opportunity to help us clarify what’s on the video!! Thanks again for watching!

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