Homework Questions for Chapter 16 - Climate Change

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1. Since the earth's temperature has remained essentially constant with time, it can be assumed that the incoming solar radiation absorbed by the earth is equal to the IR radiation emitted by the earth. Therefore, radiation in (SW) = radiation out (LW). This is called radiative equilibrium.

a. If you were looking at the earth from outer space, what geometrical cross section area would the earth appear to have? Your answer should be a formula for area.

b. Now, how many watts of solar radiation will the earth absorb at any given time. Express your answer in terms of the the solar constant (S) given in watts per square meter. Assume that the earth is absorbing 100% of the total incident radiation.

c. We know the earth does not absorb all incident radiation. Given that the planetary albedo is A, how many watts of incoming solar radiation is the earth absorbing?

d. Over what geometrical area is the earth reemitting back LW radiation to space?

e. How many total watts of radiation are being emitted back to space at any given time? Your answer to this question should include Te, the radiative equilibrium temperature of the earth.

f. Assuming that the earth is in radiative equilibrium, use the results above to calculate the radiative equilibrium temperature, Te.

g. Is the result in (f) physically reasonable? Explain