The Earth intercepts an average of 1370Wm-2 of solar radiation. That’s quite a lot… I’m surprised everyone doesn’t get more sunburnt.
I’m well into Chapter Four now, and we’re talking about energy exchange with regards to GMST (Global Mean Surface Temperature). Why does the GMST change? Well, it stays in a steady state when the energy gain equals the energy loss. When the energy gain increases, the GMST increases, and the energy loss begins to increase until a new, higher, GMST is reached.
And then the same happens when energy loss outdoes energy gain. A new lower GMST is reached.
You see, I think this is a fairly simple concept, but a lot of words are being used to explain it. The book uses an analogy – that of a leaky tank. Water is poured in at a constant rate, and leaks out. Eventually, the rate at which it leaks is equal to the rate at which it pours in. So the steady state is reached. Turn the tap on harder, and the level increases – and so does the leak rate – until they reach a state of equilibrium again.
Are you still awake?
We are on to solar radiation now, though, and it’s all a little more interesting. I understand that they have to explain absolutely everything very clearly and precisely, but it does make it rather long-winded… I can’t fault the clarity of presentation though.
I really am impressed with the course so far; I am looking forward to more challenging subject matter though. And I’m still formulating my opinions on global warming itself…
OH! And – I’m terribly excited, because I have just booked tickets for Himself and myself to go and see Professor Brian Cox and Ben Goldacre, Simon Singh and Robin Ince at their show: Uncaged Monkeys in Birmingham in May!
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