Heat Transfer and the Natural Greenhouse effect

Heat Transfer

Heat is A form of energy and there are three ways to transfer heat:

Conduction: Heat transfer through direct contact (occurs in solids)

Radiation: Heat transfer without direct contact through the use of waves (stand outside in sunny weather; feel warm)

Convection: Heat transfer without contact through movement of particles (occurs in fluids)

The Climate System

Transports heat from hot to cold areas

Causes tropical regions to cool and polar regions to warm.

Convection Currents

Convection currents follow a fundamental law: Warm Air rises, Cool Air falls

The Coriolis Effect

Since Earth is spinning on it’s axis, the air flowing North or South appears to twist rather than flowing in a straight line. This phenomenon results in Westerlies and NE + SE trade winds.

Water Currents

Thermohaline Circlulation is the continuous flow of water around the world’s oceans due to differences in water temperatures, and salinity. Another name for this is the Global Conveyer Belt.

How water Currents are Created

  • As water moves toward the poles, it gets colder and saltier (ice rejects salt) so it sinks
  • warmer water flows up to poles to take it’s place
  • falling water moves back down to the equator where it warms up again
  • On top of these patterns, global winds drive surface currents

Albedo Effect

– The amount of sunlight reflected by a surface


  • cause creates an effect that affects the original cause

Warming Albedo feedback loop (infinite)

  1. Earth’s temperature increases
  2. ice melts
  3. less of sun’s radiation reflected by ice

Cooling Albedo Feedback Loop (infinite)

  1. Earth’s temperature decreases
  2. More ice forms
  3. More of sun’s radiation reflected by ice

The Greenhouse Effect

  • it is a natural process
  • gases absorb the infrared (IR) radiation emitted from earth’s surface and radiate it in all directions, heating the atmosphere and earth’s surface.
  • Keeps earth’s temperature higher than it would otherwise be (-18 degrees Celsius to 15 degrees Celsius)
  • absorb and then re-radiate IR radiation
  • must be a compound with 2 different elements or atleast 3 atoms of the same element.

– CO2






Stratospheric Ozone:

  • protects us from UV radiation.
  • Ozone is created by UV interacting with O2, and is destroyed through interaction with UV
  • Ozone must be created and destroyed at the same rate to keep the same amount of protection.

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