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How Does Sunlight Affect Air Temperature?
Transcript of How Does Sunlight Affect Air Temperature?
Changes in Air Temperature
It is warmer in the afternoon and cooler in the morning and night. Why?
Sunlight hits the earth at different angles during the day. Sunlight hits most directly around noon. It hits the earth less directly in the morning and evening. See pg. C9
-Sand, pavement, and grass
Measuring Air Temperatures
The temperature has of the air has to do with how much sunlight, or light energy from the sun, reached the earth.
Sunlight passes through the air but does not heat it. Rather, light energy from the sun hits liquids and solids on the surface of the earth.
The liquids and solid get warm, and they warm the air above them.
However, the earth's surface does not heat evenly. The uneven heating is caused by sunlight hitting the earth's surface at different angles. Direct sunlight hitting the earth's surface causes higher temperatures than indirect sunlight.
You can infer the rotation of the earth by watching the shadows on the ground.
The temperature of the air is usually lowest just before sunrise. Then, as the sun rises and the surface of the earth is heated, the air temperature rises.
The earth's surface is usually warmest around midday, when the sunlight is most direct. However, the surface of the earth takes time to heat the air. Therefore, air temperatures are often highest in the middle of the afternoon.
The number of hours of daylight also affects temperature.
Are there more hours of daylight in the winter or summer?
The earth's surface has more time to heat up on summer days. Therefore, air temperatures are usually warmer.
Different Surfaces and Temperature
Why do some surfaces stay cool while other surfaces get hot?
The sunlight falls equally on all of them. However, different surfaces absorb different amounts of light energy. Some surfaces get hot faster than others.
Blacktops, cement, and buildings warm quickly.
Large bodies of water warm slowly.
Warmer surfaces heat the air above them more than cooler surfaces do.
During a summer day, the ocean heats up more slowly than the land around it.
The air above the ocean will stay cooler than the air above the land. The cool air above the ocean may move over the land.
Then the air temperature above the land becomes cooler, but the land farther from the ocean stays warmer.
Air temperature is measured by using a tool called a thermometer.
Some thermometers are a tube with liquid inside. When the air around the liquid gets warmer, the liquid gets warmer. Then the liquid expands, or spreads out, and moves up the thermometer.
When the air around the liquid is cooled, the liquid contracts, or pulls together, and moves down the thermometer.
The C stands for Celsius-a metric scale for measuring temperature.