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Hit Me When It's Hot!

What is the effect of solar energy on Earth's climate or weather? At first it may seem that this is difficult to answer. Relax and consider things you may have experienced in life as you try to answer this question.
 

Points to ponder:

  • Do you notice a change in the outside temperature when the sun is shining?
  • Does the outdoor temperature change when the skies are covered with clouds?
  • As you watch the mountains during a hot summer day, do you see clouds start to build at the mountain top?
 

To get a better feel for how solar energy is related to Earth's climate and weather, collect the following data, using news broadcasts, newspapers, Internet sources or your school's weather station to assist you. Try to collect the data on the same day of each week. You should complete this assignment four different times during this year, based on the seasons.

Season: Fall
Date
Sunrise
Sunset
High Temperature
Low Temperature
Precipitation
Week 1          
Week 2          
Week 3          
Week 4          
Week 5          
Week 6          
 
Season: Winter
Date
Sunrise
Sunset
High Temperature
Low Temperature
Precipitation
Week 1          
Week 2          
Week 3          
Week 4          
Week 5          
Week 6          
 
Season: Spring
Date
Sunrise
Sunset
High Temperature
Low Temperature
Precipitation
Week 1          
Week 2          
Week 3          
Week 4          
Week 5          
Week 6          
 
Season: Summer
Date
Sunrise
Sunset
High Temperature
Low Temperature
Precipitation
Week 1          
Week 2          
Week 3          
Week 4          
Week 5          
Week 6          
 

Analysis:

  1. What relationship did you notice between the sunrise/sunset times and the high/low temperatures?
  2. How were the temperatures related to the measured precipitation?
  3. What large scale phenomenon could the sun affect which would change your weather data?
    • Research possible topics such as El Niño, La Niña, solar intensity or solar flares.
  4. What relationship did you notice between the four seasons with both high/low temperatures and high/low precipitation?
  5. What is the relationship between the directness of the sun’s rays on high/low temperature and high/low precipitation?
 

Extension:

Compare your data with that from someone in another county or state. Are there similar relationships between solar activity and weather? What weather areas are different between the two data sources?

 
Review science lab safety rules here.

Get the plug-ins: Get Adobe Acrobat Reader and Get Quicktime Player. (The QuickTime plug-in is needed to play sounds and movies correctly.)

Want to share photos of you or your friends doing this activity? Send it in an e-mail with the following information:

  1. The title of the activity
  2. The URL (Internet address)
  3. Your name.

Remember that no pictures can be used that show student faces or student names on it. 

Teachers should view the Teacher Site Map to relate Sci-ber text and the USOE Earth Systems Science core.

 


Updated October 24, 2008 by: Glen Westbroek

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