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9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Chemistry, Physics, Earth and Space Sciences

Resource Types

  • Interactive Media
  • Ebooks

Regional Focus


The Earth's Radiation Balance

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  • This interactive resource provides information on the balance of solar radiation and thermal radiation on Earth.
Teaching Tips


  • The information is written in a format that is easy to understand.
  • The resource includes interactive questions and provides students with immediate feedback on their answers.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should have some background knowledge of the concepts of solar radiation and albedo.
  • The graphics in this resource look a little dated, but the interface is easy to navigate.


  • Students could work through this resource in pairs or individually.
  • Teachers could assign the four sections one at a time for homework, or individual work at the beginning of class so that students have some foundational knowledge before the lesson.
Scientist Notes
The resource is suitable to teach energy balance in the earth-atmospheric-ocean system. Educators should note that incoming solar radiation reaching the earth's surface does not reflect into space, especially if it radiates on a black body, it re-emits in the form of Infrared radiation as a longwave. The radiation that remains supplies heat at night in the form of terrestrial energy, thereby not allowing our nights to be too cold. Only incoming solar radiation that is reflected in space reaches light surfaces (reflectors such as clouds, snow ice, and the atmosphere). There is a contradiction in the aspect that incoming radiation, when it reaches the soil, reflects solar radiation to space. Soil is a black body (100% emitter, it conducts and transfers heat downward the soil and at the surface). Other aspects of this resource are suitable.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • HS-ESS2-4 Use a model to describe how variations in the flow of energy into and out of Earth’s systems result in changes in climate.
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-6 Use a computational representation to illustrate the relationships among Earth systems and how those relationships are being modified due to human activity.
    • PS3: Energy
      • HS-PS3-2 Develop and use models to illustrate that energy at the macroscopic scale can be accounted for as a combination of energy associated with the motions of particles (objects) and energy associated with the relative position of particles (objects).
      • HS-PS3-4 Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence that the transfer of thermal energy when two components of different temperature are combined within a closed system results in a more uniform energy distribution among the components in the system (second law of thermodynamics).
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