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The Greenhouse Effect: Heat Transfer in the Atmosphere (page 2)

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Author: Janice VanCleave

Design Your Own Experiment

  1. Design a way to determine how the Earth's atmosphere affects the surface air temperature at night. One way is to record air temperature at sunset and again at sunrise for one or more weeks in a chart similar to Table 25.1. Calculate the difference between the two temperatures each day, and determine an average by adding the differences and dividing by the total number of days. Note: Your temperature measurements should be taken during a time of a constant weather pattern.
  2. Repeat the previous experiment to determine how cloud cover affects surface temperature during the night. Do this by recording air temperature during cloudy and noncloudy periods. On four or more days on which the weather forecast calls for the same amount of nighttime cloud cover, record the temperature at sunset and again at sunrise. Repeat by recording the day and night temperatures on four or more days with little or no nighttime cloud cover. Use the results to determine how the presence or absence of clouds in the troposphere leads to more heat escaping to space, thus causing a greater decrease in nighttime temperature.

Get the Facts

Carbon dioxide, one of the greenhouse gases, is responsible for much of the warming of the Earth. Some scientists predict a rise in the average temperature of the Earth if the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere continues to increase. Find out more about the production of carbon dioxide. How do fossil fuel emissions and deforestation affect the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere? What is insolation and how does it affect global warming? For information about the greenhouse effect and greenhouse gases, see Janice VanCleave's Ecology for Every Kid (New York: Wiley, 1996), pp. 139-146.

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