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Atmospheric Energy Transfer

  • By: David L. Arnold
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

There are two primary energy sources within the atmosphere: heat energy originating from the sun and angular momentum from Earth's rotation about its axis. While solar irradiance is the primary control on Earth's surface temperature, angular momentum and its variation over time have a large impact on the state of the climate system on subseasonal timescales.

Much temporal variability exists in both solar output and angular momentum, and to a certain extent the two may be related. But variability in Earth's angular momentum clearly varies on smaller timescales than solar output. There are some who believe that variance of only a few watts per square meter is negligible and therefore meaningless. However, one only needs to look at mean temperature time series plots to see ...

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