# Does Land or Water Warm Faster?

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#### Updated on May 07, 2013

Solar radiation warms both land surfaces and water on our planet. Land surfaces absorb much more solar radiation than water. This is due to the fact that most land surfaces are darker than water which of course means more absorption of solar radiation and heat. Water reflects most solar radiation that reaches its surface back to the atmosphere. Since land absorbs more solar radiation the land surface retains more heat as do the vegetation for energy. Thus, land surfaces warm more quickly than water.

### Problem:

Does land or water warm faster?

### Materials:

• 2 thermometers
• 2 plastic boxes (These should be exactly alike.)
• Sand
• Water

### Procedure

1. Pour sand into one of your plastic boxes to a depth of two inches. Pour water into the other plastic box to a depth of two inches. The sand box will represent land while the water box represents a body of water.
2. Place the two boxes in a location that receives direct sunlight.
3. For a period of 30 minutes, check the temperature of both boxes every 10 minutes. Make sure to put the thermometer down into the sand and water to get an accurate temperature of each material. Record the temperatures in a chart (see sample below) or plot the points on a graph.

### Results:

The land surface will warm faster.

### Why?

Land absorbs more solar radiation the land surface retains more heat as do the vegetation for energy.

Angela Pike has been in the world of elementary education for almost a decade, working as a classroom teacher, school writing specialist, and later a school administrator. After a recent leave from the education realm to stay at home with her children, she channeled her passion for education, science, and writing into a composing articles and educational activities for various companies.