NCERT Textbook - Solar Radiation, Heat Balance and Temperature Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

Geography Class 11

Humanities/Arts : NCERT Textbook - Solar Radiation, Heat Balance and Temperature Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


SOLAR RADIATION, HEAT BALANCE
AND TEMPERATURE
D
o you feel air around you? Do you
know that we live at the bottom of a
huge pile of air? We inhale and exhale
but we feel the air when it is  in motion. It means
air in motion is wind. Y ou have already learnt
about the fact that earth is surrounded by air
all around. This envelop of air is atmosphere
which is composed of numerous gases. These
gases support life over the earth’s surface.
The earth receives almost all of its energy
from the sun. The earth in turn radiates back
to space the energy received from the sun. As
a result, the earth neither warms up nor does
it get cooled over a period of time. Thus, the
amount of heat received by different parts of
the earth is not the same. This variation causes
pressure differences in the atmosphere. This
leads to transfer of heat from one region to the
other by winds. This chapter explains the
process of heating and cooling of the
atmosphere and the resultant temperature
distribution over the earth’s surface.
SOLAR R ADIATION
The earth’ s surface receives most of its energy
in short wavelengths. The energy received by
the earth is known as incoming solar radiation
which in short is termed as insolation.
As the earth is a geoid resembling a sphere,
the sun’s rays fall obliquely at the top of the
atmosphere and the earth intercepts a very
small portion of the sun’s energy. On an
average the earth receives 1.94 calories per sq.
cm per minute at the top of its atmosphere.
The solar output received at the top of the
atmosphere varies slightly in a year due to the
variations in the distance between the earth and
the sun. During its revolution around the sun,
the earth is farthest from the sun (152 million
km) on 4th July. This position of the earth is
called aphelion. On 3rd January, the earth is
the nearest to the sun (147 million km). This
position is called perihelion. Therefore, the
annual insolation received by the earth on 3rd
January is slightly more than the amount
received on 4th July . However, the effect of this
variation in the solar output is masked by
other factors like the distribution of land and
sea and the atmospheric circulation. Hence, this
variation in the solar output does not have
great effect on daily weather changes on the
surface of the earth.
Variability of Insolation at
the Surface of the Earth
The amount and the intensity of insolation vary
during a day , in a season and in a year .  The factors
that cause these variations in insolation are : (i)
the rotation of earth on its axis; (ii)  the angle of
inclination of the sun’s rays; (iii) the length of the
day; (iv) the transparency of the atmosphere; (v)
the configuration of land in terms of its aspect.
The last two however, have less influence.
The fact that the earth’ s axis makes an angle
of 66½ with the plane of its orbit round the
sun has a greater influence on the amount of
insolation received at different latitudes.
The second factor that determines the
amount of insolation received is the angle of
CHAPTER
2020-21
Page 2


SOLAR RADIATION, HEAT BALANCE
AND TEMPERATURE
D
o you feel air around you? Do you
know that we live at the bottom of a
huge pile of air? We inhale and exhale
but we feel the air when it is  in motion. It means
air in motion is wind. Y ou have already learnt
about the fact that earth is surrounded by air
all around. This envelop of air is atmosphere
which is composed of numerous gases. These
gases support life over the earth’s surface.
The earth receives almost all of its energy
from the sun. The earth in turn radiates back
to space the energy received from the sun. As
a result, the earth neither warms up nor does
it get cooled over a period of time. Thus, the
amount of heat received by different parts of
the earth is not the same. This variation causes
pressure differences in the atmosphere. This
leads to transfer of heat from one region to the
other by winds. This chapter explains the
process of heating and cooling of the
atmosphere and the resultant temperature
distribution over the earth’s surface.
SOLAR R ADIATION
The earth’ s surface receives most of its energy
in short wavelengths. The energy received by
the earth is known as incoming solar radiation
which in short is termed as insolation.
As the earth is a geoid resembling a sphere,
the sun’s rays fall obliquely at the top of the
atmosphere and the earth intercepts a very
small portion of the sun’s energy. On an
average the earth receives 1.94 calories per sq.
cm per minute at the top of its atmosphere.
The solar output received at the top of the
atmosphere varies slightly in a year due to the
variations in the distance between the earth and
the sun. During its revolution around the sun,
the earth is farthest from the sun (152 million
km) on 4th July. This position of the earth is
called aphelion. On 3rd January, the earth is
the nearest to the sun (147 million km). This
position is called perihelion. Therefore, the
annual insolation received by the earth on 3rd
January is slightly more than the amount
received on 4th July . However, the effect of this
variation in the solar output is masked by
other factors like the distribution of land and
sea and the atmospheric circulation. Hence, this
variation in the solar output does not have
great effect on daily weather changes on the
surface of the earth.
Variability of Insolation at
the Surface of the Earth
The amount and the intensity of insolation vary
during a day , in a season and in a year .  The factors
that cause these variations in insolation are : (i)
the rotation of earth on its axis; (ii)  the angle of
inclination of the sun’s rays; (iii) the length of the
day; (iv) the transparency of the atmosphere; (v)
the configuration of land in terms of its aspect.
The last two however, have less influence.
The fact that the earth’ s axis makes an angle
of 66½ with the plane of its orbit round the
sun has a greater influence on the amount of
insolation received at different latitudes.
The second factor that determines the
amount of insolation received is the angle of
CHAPTER
2020-21
FUNDAMENTALS OF PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY 76
inclination of the rays. This depends on the
latitude of a place. The higher the latitude
the less is the angle they make with the surface
of the earth resulting in slant sun rays. The
area covered by vertical rays is always less
than the slant rays. If more area is covered,
the energy gets distributed and the net energy
received per unit area decreases. Moreover,
the slant rays are required to pass through
greater depth of the atmosphere resulting in
more absorption, scattering and diffusion.
The Passage of Solar Radiation
through the Atmosphere
The atmosphere is largely transparent to short
wave solar radiation. The incoming solar
radiation passes through the atmosphere
before striking the earth’ s surface. Within the
troposphere water vapour, ozone and other
gases absorb much of the near infrared
radiation.
Very small-suspended particles in the
troposphere scatter visible spectrum both to
the space and towards the earth surface. This
process adds colour to the sky . The red colour
of the rising and the setting sun and the blue
colour of the sky are the result of scattering
of light within the atmosphere.
Spatial Distribution of Insolation
at the Earth’s Surface
The insolation received at the surface varies
from about 320 Watt/m
2
 in the tropics to
about 70 Watt/m
2
 in the poles. Maximum
insolation is received over the subtropical
deserts, where the cloudiness is the least.
Equator receives comparatively less insolation
than the tropics. Generally , at the same
latitude the insolation is more over the
continent than over the oceans. In winter, the
middle and higher latitudes receive less
radiation than in summer.
HEATING AND COOLING OF ATMOSPHERE
There are dif ferent ways of heating and
cooling of the atmosphere.
The earth after being heated by insolation
transmits the heat to the atmospheric layers near
to the earth in long wave form. The air in contact
with the land gets heated slowly and the upper
layers in contact with the lower layers also get
heated. This process is called conduction.
Conduction takes place when two bodies of
unequal temperature are in contact with one
another, there is a flow of energy from the warmer
to cooler body . The transfer of heat continues
until both the bodies attain the same
temperature or the contact is broken. Conduction
is important in heating the lower layers of the
atmosphere.
The air in contact with the earth rises
vertically on heating in the form of currents
and further transmits the heat of the
atmsphere. This process of vertical heating
of the atmosphere is known as convection.
The convective transfer of energy is confined
only to the troposphere.
The transfer of heat through horizontal
movement of air is called advection. Horizontal
movement of the air is relatively more
important than the vertical movement. In
middle latitudes, most of dirunal (day and
night) variation in daily weather are caused
by advection alone. In tropical regions
particularly in northern India during summer
season local winds called ‘loo’ is the outcome
of advection process.
Terrestrial Radiation
The insolation received by the earth is in short
waves forms and heats up its surface. The
Figure 9.1 : Summer Solstice
2020-21
Page 3


SOLAR RADIATION, HEAT BALANCE
AND TEMPERATURE
D
o you feel air around you? Do you
know that we live at the bottom of a
huge pile of air? We inhale and exhale
but we feel the air when it is  in motion. It means
air in motion is wind. Y ou have already learnt
about the fact that earth is surrounded by air
all around. This envelop of air is atmosphere
which is composed of numerous gases. These
gases support life over the earth’s surface.
The earth receives almost all of its energy
from the sun. The earth in turn radiates back
to space the energy received from the sun. As
a result, the earth neither warms up nor does
it get cooled over a period of time. Thus, the
amount of heat received by different parts of
the earth is not the same. This variation causes
pressure differences in the atmosphere. This
leads to transfer of heat from one region to the
other by winds. This chapter explains the
process of heating and cooling of the
atmosphere and the resultant temperature
distribution over the earth’s surface.
SOLAR R ADIATION
The earth’ s surface receives most of its energy
in short wavelengths. The energy received by
the earth is known as incoming solar radiation
which in short is termed as insolation.
As the earth is a geoid resembling a sphere,
the sun’s rays fall obliquely at the top of the
atmosphere and the earth intercepts a very
small portion of the sun’s energy. On an
average the earth receives 1.94 calories per sq.
cm per minute at the top of its atmosphere.
The solar output received at the top of the
atmosphere varies slightly in a year due to the
variations in the distance between the earth and
the sun. During its revolution around the sun,
the earth is farthest from the sun (152 million
km) on 4th July. This position of the earth is
called aphelion. On 3rd January, the earth is
the nearest to the sun (147 million km). This
position is called perihelion. Therefore, the
annual insolation received by the earth on 3rd
January is slightly more than the amount
received on 4th July . However, the effect of this
variation in the solar output is masked by
other factors like the distribution of land and
sea and the atmospheric circulation. Hence, this
variation in the solar output does not have
great effect on daily weather changes on the
surface of the earth.
Variability of Insolation at
the Surface of the Earth
The amount and the intensity of insolation vary
during a day , in a season and in a year .  The factors
that cause these variations in insolation are : (i)
the rotation of earth on its axis; (ii)  the angle of
inclination of the sun’s rays; (iii) the length of the
day; (iv) the transparency of the atmosphere; (v)
the configuration of land in terms of its aspect.
The last two however, have less influence.
The fact that the earth’ s axis makes an angle
of 66½ with the plane of its orbit round the
sun has a greater influence on the amount of
insolation received at different latitudes.
The second factor that determines the
amount of insolation received is the angle of
CHAPTER
2020-21
FUNDAMENTALS OF PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY 76
inclination of the rays. This depends on the
latitude of a place. The higher the latitude
the less is the angle they make with the surface
of the earth resulting in slant sun rays. The
area covered by vertical rays is always less
than the slant rays. If more area is covered,
the energy gets distributed and the net energy
received per unit area decreases. Moreover,
the slant rays are required to pass through
greater depth of the atmosphere resulting in
more absorption, scattering and diffusion.
The Passage of Solar Radiation
through the Atmosphere
The atmosphere is largely transparent to short
wave solar radiation. The incoming solar
radiation passes through the atmosphere
before striking the earth’ s surface. Within the
troposphere water vapour, ozone and other
gases absorb much of the near infrared
radiation.
Very small-suspended particles in the
troposphere scatter visible spectrum both to
the space and towards the earth surface. This
process adds colour to the sky . The red colour
of the rising and the setting sun and the blue
colour of the sky are the result of scattering
of light within the atmosphere.
Spatial Distribution of Insolation
at the Earth’s Surface
The insolation received at the surface varies
from about 320 Watt/m
2
 in the tropics to
about 70 Watt/m
2
 in the poles. Maximum
insolation is received over the subtropical
deserts, where the cloudiness is the least.
Equator receives comparatively less insolation
than the tropics. Generally , at the same
latitude the insolation is more over the
continent than over the oceans. In winter, the
middle and higher latitudes receive less
radiation than in summer.
HEATING AND COOLING OF ATMOSPHERE
There are dif ferent ways of heating and
cooling of the atmosphere.
The earth after being heated by insolation
transmits the heat to the atmospheric layers near
to the earth in long wave form. The air in contact
with the land gets heated slowly and the upper
layers in contact with the lower layers also get
heated. This process is called conduction.
Conduction takes place when two bodies of
unequal temperature are in contact with one
another, there is a flow of energy from the warmer
to cooler body . The transfer of heat continues
until both the bodies attain the same
temperature or the contact is broken. Conduction
is important in heating the lower layers of the
atmosphere.
The air in contact with the earth rises
vertically on heating in the form of currents
and further transmits the heat of the
atmsphere. This process of vertical heating
of the atmosphere is known as convection.
The convective transfer of energy is confined
only to the troposphere.
The transfer of heat through horizontal
movement of air is called advection. Horizontal
movement of the air is relatively more
important than the vertical movement. In
middle latitudes, most of dirunal (day and
night) variation in daily weather are caused
by advection alone. In tropical regions
particularly in northern India during summer
season local winds called ‘loo’ is the outcome
of advection process.
Terrestrial Radiation
The insolation received by the earth is in short
waves forms and heats up its surface. The
Figure 9.1 : Summer Solstice
2020-21
SOLAR RADIATION, HEAT BALANCE AND TEMPERATURE 77
the earth surface. Roughly 35 units are
reflected back to space even before reaching
the earth’ s surface. Of these, 27 units are
reflected back from the top of the clouds and
2 units from the snow and ice-covered areas
of the earth. The reflected amount of radiation
is called the albedo of the earth.
The remaining 65 units are absorbed,
14 units within the atmosphere and 51 units
by the earth’ s surface. The earth radiates
back 51 units in the form of terrestrial
radiation. Of these, 17 units are radiated
to space directly and the remaining 34 units
are absorbed by the atmosphere (6 units
absorbed directly by the atmosphere, 9 units
through convection and turbulence and 19
units through latent heat of condensation).
48 units absorbed by the atmosphere
(14 units from insolation +34 units from
terrestrial radiation) are also radiated back
into space. Thus, the total radiation
returning from the earth and the atmosphere
respectively is 17+48=65 units which
balance the total of 65 units received from
the sun. This is termed the heat budget or
heat balance of the earth.
This explains, why the earth neither warms
up nor cools down despite the huge transfer of
heat that takes place.
earth after being heated itself becomes a
radiating body and it radiates energy to the
atmosphere in long wave form. This energy
heats up the atmosphere from below. This
process is known as terrestrial radiation.
The long wave radiation is absorbed by
the atmospheric gases particularly by carbon
dioxide and the other green house gases. Thus,
the atmosphere is indirectly heated by the
earth’s radiation.
The atmosphere in turn radiates and
transmits heat to the space. Finally the amount
of heat received from the sun is returned to
space, thereby maintaining constant temperature
at the earth’ s surface and in the atmosphere.
Heat Budget of the Planet Earth
Figure 9.2 depicts the heat budget of the
planet earth. The earth as a whole does not
accumulate or loose heat. It maintains its
temperature. This can happen only if the
amount of heat received in the form of
insolation equals the amount lost by the earth
through terrestrial radiation.
Consider that the insolation received at
the top of the atmosphere is 100 per cent.
While passing through the atmosphere some
amount of energy is reflected, scattered and
absorbed. Only the remaining part reaches
Figure 9.2 : Heat budget of the earth
2020-21
Page 4


SOLAR RADIATION, HEAT BALANCE
AND TEMPERATURE
D
o you feel air around you? Do you
know that we live at the bottom of a
huge pile of air? We inhale and exhale
but we feel the air when it is  in motion. It means
air in motion is wind. Y ou have already learnt
about the fact that earth is surrounded by air
all around. This envelop of air is atmosphere
which is composed of numerous gases. These
gases support life over the earth’s surface.
The earth receives almost all of its energy
from the sun. The earth in turn radiates back
to space the energy received from the sun. As
a result, the earth neither warms up nor does
it get cooled over a period of time. Thus, the
amount of heat received by different parts of
the earth is not the same. This variation causes
pressure differences in the atmosphere. This
leads to transfer of heat from one region to the
other by winds. This chapter explains the
process of heating and cooling of the
atmosphere and the resultant temperature
distribution over the earth’s surface.
SOLAR R ADIATION
The earth’ s surface receives most of its energy
in short wavelengths. The energy received by
the earth is known as incoming solar radiation
which in short is termed as insolation.
As the earth is a geoid resembling a sphere,
the sun’s rays fall obliquely at the top of the
atmosphere and the earth intercepts a very
small portion of the sun’s energy. On an
average the earth receives 1.94 calories per sq.
cm per minute at the top of its atmosphere.
The solar output received at the top of the
atmosphere varies slightly in a year due to the
variations in the distance between the earth and
the sun. During its revolution around the sun,
the earth is farthest from the sun (152 million
km) on 4th July. This position of the earth is
called aphelion. On 3rd January, the earth is
the nearest to the sun (147 million km). This
position is called perihelion. Therefore, the
annual insolation received by the earth on 3rd
January is slightly more than the amount
received on 4th July . However, the effect of this
variation in the solar output is masked by
other factors like the distribution of land and
sea and the atmospheric circulation. Hence, this
variation in the solar output does not have
great effect on daily weather changes on the
surface of the earth.
Variability of Insolation at
the Surface of the Earth
The amount and the intensity of insolation vary
during a day , in a season and in a year .  The factors
that cause these variations in insolation are : (i)
the rotation of earth on its axis; (ii)  the angle of
inclination of the sun’s rays; (iii) the length of the
day; (iv) the transparency of the atmosphere; (v)
the configuration of land in terms of its aspect.
The last two however, have less influence.
The fact that the earth’ s axis makes an angle
of 66½ with the plane of its orbit round the
sun has a greater influence on the amount of
insolation received at different latitudes.
The second factor that determines the
amount of insolation received is the angle of
CHAPTER
2020-21
FUNDAMENTALS OF PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY 76
inclination of the rays. This depends on the
latitude of a place. The higher the latitude
the less is the angle they make with the surface
of the earth resulting in slant sun rays. The
area covered by vertical rays is always less
than the slant rays. If more area is covered,
the energy gets distributed and the net energy
received per unit area decreases. Moreover,
the slant rays are required to pass through
greater depth of the atmosphere resulting in
more absorption, scattering and diffusion.
The Passage of Solar Radiation
through the Atmosphere
The atmosphere is largely transparent to short
wave solar radiation. The incoming solar
radiation passes through the atmosphere
before striking the earth’ s surface. Within the
troposphere water vapour, ozone and other
gases absorb much of the near infrared
radiation.
Very small-suspended particles in the
troposphere scatter visible spectrum both to
the space and towards the earth surface. This
process adds colour to the sky . The red colour
of the rising and the setting sun and the blue
colour of the sky are the result of scattering
of light within the atmosphere.
Spatial Distribution of Insolation
at the Earth’s Surface
The insolation received at the surface varies
from about 320 Watt/m
2
 in the tropics to
about 70 Watt/m
2
 in the poles. Maximum
insolation is received over the subtropical
deserts, where the cloudiness is the least.
Equator receives comparatively less insolation
than the tropics. Generally , at the same
latitude the insolation is more over the
continent than over the oceans. In winter, the
middle and higher latitudes receive less
radiation than in summer.
HEATING AND COOLING OF ATMOSPHERE
There are dif ferent ways of heating and
cooling of the atmosphere.
The earth after being heated by insolation
transmits the heat to the atmospheric layers near
to the earth in long wave form. The air in contact
with the land gets heated slowly and the upper
layers in contact with the lower layers also get
heated. This process is called conduction.
Conduction takes place when two bodies of
unequal temperature are in contact with one
another, there is a flow of energy from the warmer
to cooler body . The transfer of heat continues
until both the bodies attain the same
temperature or the contact is broken. Conduction
is important in heating the lower layers of the
atmosphere.
The air in contact with the earth rises
vertically on heating in the form of currents
and further transmits the heat of the
atmsphere. This process of vertical heating
of the atmosphere is known as convection.
The convective transfer of energy is confined
only to the troposphere.
The transfer of heat through horizontal
movement of air is called advection. Horizontal
movement of the air is relatively more
important than the vertical movement. In
middle latitudes, most of dirunal (day and
night) variation in daily weather are caused
by advection alone. In tropical regions
particularly in northern India during summer
season local winds called ‘loo’ is the outcome
of advection process.
Terrestrial Radiation
The insolation received by the earth is in short
waves forms and heats up its surface. The
Figure 9.1 : Summer Solstice
2020-21
SOLAR RADIATION, HEAT BALANCE AND TEMPERATURE 77
the earth surface. Roughly 35 units are
reflected back to space even before reaching
the earth’ s surface. Of these, 27 units are
reflected back from the top of the clouds and
2 units from the snow and ice-covered areas
of the earth. The reflected amount of radiation
is called the albedo of the earth.
The remaining 65 units are absorbed,
14 units within the atmosphere and 51 units
by the earth’ s surface. The earth radiates
back 51 units in the form of terrestrial
radiation. Of these, 17 units are radiated
to space directly and the remaining 34 units
are absorbed by the atmosphere (6 units
absorbed directly by the atmosphere, 9 units
through convection and turbulence and 19
units through latent heat of condensation).
48 units absorbed by the atmosphere
(14 units from insolation +34 units from
terrestrial radiation) are also radiated back
into space. Thus, the total radiation
returning from the earth and the atmosphere
respectively is 17+48=65 units which
balance the total of 65 units received from
the sun. This is termed the heat budget or
heat balance of the earth.
This explains, why the earth neither warms
up nor cools down despite the huge transfer of
heat that takes place.
earth after being heated itself becomes a
radiating body and it radiates energy to the
atmosphere in long wave form. This energy
heats up the atmosphere from below. This
process is known as terrestrial radiation.
The long wave radiation is absorbed by
the atmospheric gases particularly by carbon
dioxide and the other green house gases. Thus,
the atmosphere is indirectly heated by the
earth’s radiation.
The atmosphere in turn radiates and
transmits heat to the space. Finally the amount
of heat received from the sun is returned to
space, thereby maintaining constant temperature
at the earth’ s surface and in the atmosphere.
Heat Budget of the Planet Earth
Figure 9.2 depicts the heat budget of the
planet earth. The earth as a whole does not
accumulate or loose heat. It maintains its
temperature. This can happen only if the
amount of heat received in the form of
insolation equals the amount lost by the earth
through terrestrial radiation.
Consider that the insolation received at
the top of the atmosphere is 100 per cent.
While passing through the atmosphere some
amount of energy is reflected, scattered and
absorbed. Only the remaining part reaches
Figure 9.2 : Heat budget of the earth
2020-21
FUNDAMENTALS OF PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY 78
Variation in the Net Heat Budget at the Earth’s
Surface
As explained earlier, there are variations in
the amount of radiation received at the earth’ s
surface. Some part of the earth has surplus
radiation balance while the other part has
deficit.
Figure 9.3 depicts the latitudinal variation
in the net radiation balance of the earth —
the atmosphere system. The figure shows that
there is a surplus of net radiation balance
between 40 degrees north and south and the
regions near the poles have a deficit. The
surplus heat energy from the tropics is
redistributed pole wards and as a result the
tropics do not get progressively heated up
due to the accumulation of excess heat or
the high latitudes get permanently frozen due
to excess deficit.
Figure 9.3 : Latitudinal variation in net
    radiation balance
the sea, the air-mass circulation; (iv) the
presence of warm and cold ocean currents;
(v) local aspects.
The latitude : The temperature of a place
depends on the insolation received. It has been
explained earlier that the insolation varies
according to the latitude hence the
temperature also varies accordingly.
The altitude : The atmosphere is indirectly
heated by terrestrial radiation from below.
Therefore, the places near the sea-level record
higher temperature than the places situated
at higher elevations. In other words, the
temperature generally decreases with
increasing height. The rate of decrease of
temperature with height is termed as the
normal lapse rate. It is 6.5°C per 1,000 m.
Distance from the sea : Another factor that
influences the temperature is the location of a
place with respect to the sea. Compared to
land, the sea gets heated slowly and loses heat
slowly . Land heats up and cools down quickly .
Therefore, the variation in temperature over the
sea is less compared to land. The places
situated near the sea come under the
moderating influence of the sea and land
breezes which moderate the temperature.
Air-mass and Ocean currents : Like the land
and sea breezes, the passage of air masses
also affects the temperature. The places,
which come under the influence of warm air-
masses experience higher temperature and
the places that come under the influence of
cold air-masses experience low temperature.
Similarly , the places located on the coast where
the warm ocean currents flow record higher
temperature than the places located on the
coast where the cold currents flow.
Distribution of Temperature
The global distribution of temperature can
well be understood by studying the
temperature distribution in January and July .
The temperature distribution is generally
Temperature
The interaction of insolation with the
atmosphere and the earth’s surface creates
heat which is measured in terms of
temperature. While heat represents the
molecular movement of particles comprising
a substance, the temperature is the
measurement in degrees of how hot (or cold)
a thing (or a place) is.
Factors Controlling Temperature Distribution
The temperature of air at any place is
influenced by  (i) the latitude of the place;
(ii) the altitude of the place; (iii) distance from
2020-21
Page 5


SOLAR RADIATION, HEAT BALANCE
AND TEMPERATURE
D
o you feel air around you? Do you
know that we live at the bottom of a
huge pile of air? We inhale and exhale
but we feel the air when it is  in motion. It means
air in motion is wind. Y ou have already learnt
about the fact that earth is surrounded by air
all around. This envelop of air is atmosphere
which is composed of numerous gases. These
gases support life over the earth’s surface.
The earth receives almost all of its energy
from the sun. The earth in turn radiates back
to space the energy received from the sun. As
a result, the earth neither warms up nor does
it get cooled over a period of time. Thus, the
amount of heat received by different parts of
the earth is not the same. This variation causes
pressure differences in the atmosphere. This
leads to transfer of heat from one region to the
other by winds. This chapter explains the
process of heating and cooling of the
atmosphere and the resultant temperature
distribution over the earth’s surface.
SOLAR R ADIATION
The earth’ s surface receives most of its energy
in short wavelengths. The energy received by
the earth is known as incoming solar radiation
which in short is termed as insolation.
As the earth is a geoid resembling a sphere,
the sun’s rays fall obliquely at the top of the
atmosphere and the earth intercepts a very
small portion of the sun’s energy. On an
average the earth receives 1.94 calories per sq.
cm per minute at the top of its atmosphere.
The solar output received at the top of the
atmosphere varies slightly in a year due to the
variations in the distance between the earth and
the sun. During its revolution around the sun,
the earth is farthest from the sun (152 million
km) on 4th July. This position of the earth is
called aphelion. On 3rd January, the earth is
the nearest to the sun (147 million km). This
position is called perihelion. Therefore, the
annual insolation received by the earth on 3rd
January is slightly more than the amount
received on 4th July . However, the effect of this
variation in the solar output is masked by
other factors like the distribution of land and
sea and the atmospheric circulation. Hence, this
variation in the solar output does not have
great effect on daily weather changes on the
surface of the earth.
Variability of Insolation at
the Surface of the Earth
The amount and the intensity of insolation vary
during a day , in a season and in a year .  The factors
that cause these variations in insolation are : (i)
the rotation of earth on its axis; (ii)  the angle of
inclination of the sun’s rays; (iii) the length of the
day; (iv) the transparency of the atmosphere; (v)
the configuration of land in terms of its aspect.
The last two however, have less influence.
The fact that the earth’ s axis makes an angle
of 66½ with the plane of its orbit round the
sun has a greater influence on the amount of
insolation received at different latitudes.
The second factor that determines the
amount of insolation received is the angle of
CHAPTER
2020-21
FUNDAMENTALS OF PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY 76
inclination of the rays. This depends on the
latitude of a place. The higher the latitude
the less is the angle they make with the surface
of the earth resulting in slant sun rays. The
area covered by vertical rays is always less
than the slant rays. If more area is covered,
the energy gets distributed and the net energy
received per unit area decreases. Moreover,
the slant rays are required to pass through
greater depth of the atmosphere resulting in
more absorption, scattering and diffusion.
The Passage of Solar Radiation
through the Atmosphere
The atmosphere is largely transparent to short
wave solar radiation. The incoming solar
radiation passes through the atmosphere
before striking the earth’ s surface. Within the
troposphere water vapour, ozone and other
gases absorb much of the near infrared
radiation.
Very small-suspended particles in the
troposphere scatter visible spectrum both to
the space and towards the earth surface. This
process adds colour to the sky . The red colour
of the rising and the setting sun and the blue
colour of the sky are the result of scattering
of light within the atmosphere.
Spatial Distribution of Insolation
at the Earth’s Surface
The insolation received at the surface varies
from about 320 Watt/m
2
 in the tropics to
about 70 Watt/m
2
 in the poles. Maximum
insolation is received over the subtropical
deserts, where the cloudiness is the least.
Equator receives comparatively less insolation
than the tropics. Generally , at the same
latitude the insolation is more over the
continent than over the oceans. In winter, the
middle and higher latitudes receive less
radiation than in summer.
HEATING AND COOLING OF ATMOSPHERE
There are dif ferent ways of heating and
cooling of the atmosphere.
The earth after being heated by insolation
transmits the heat to the atmospheric layers near
to the earth in long wave form. The air in contact
with the land gets heated slowly and the upper
layers in contact with the lower layers also get
heated. This process is called conduction.
Conduction takes place when two bodies of
unequal temperature are in contact with one
another, there is a flow of energy from the warmer
to cooler body . The transfer of heat continues
until both the bodies attain the same
temperature or the contact is broken. Conduction
is important in heating the lower layers of the
atmosphere.
The air in contact with the earth rises
vertically on heating in the form of currents
and further transmits the heat of the
atmsphere. This process of vertical heating
of the atmosphere is known as convection.
The convective transfer of energy is confined
only to the troposphere.
The transfer of heat through horizontal
movement of air is called advection. Horizontal
movement of the air is relatively more
important than the vertical movement. In
middle latitudes, most of dirunal (day and
night) variation in daily weather are caused
by advection alone. In tropical regions
particularly in northern India during summer
season local winds called ‘loo’ is the outcome
of advection process.
Terrestrial Radiation
The insolation received by the earth is in short
waves forms and heats up its surface. The
Figure 9.1 : Summer Solstice
2020-21
SOLAR RADIATION, HEAT BALANCE AND TEMPERATURE 77
the earth surface. Roughly 35 units are
reflected back to space even before reaching
the earth’ s surface. Of these, 27 units are
reflected back from the top of the clouds and
2 units from the snow and ice-covered areas
of the earth. The reflected amount of radiation
is called the albedo of the earth.
The remaining 65 units are absorbed,
14 units within the atmosphere and 51 units
by the earth’ s surface. The earth radiates
back 51 units in the form of terrestrial
radiation. Of these, 17 units are radiated
to space directly and the remaining 34 units
are absorbed by the atmosphere (6 units
absorbed directly by the atmosphere, 9 units
through convection and turbulence and 19
units through latent heat of condensation).
48 units absorbed by the atmosphere
(14 units from insolation +34 units from
terrestrial radiation) are also radiated back
into space. Thus, the total radiation
returning from the earth and the atmosphere
respectively is 17+48=65 units which
balance the total of 65 units received from
the sun. This is termed the heat budget or
heat balance of the earth.
This explains, why the earth neither warms
up nor cools down despite the huge transfer of
heat that takes place.
earth after being heated itself becomes a
radiating body and it radiates energy to the
atmosphere in long wave form. This energy
heats up the atmosphere from below. This
process is known as terrestrial radiation.
The long wave radiation is absorbed by
the atmospheric gases particularly by carbon
dioxide and the other green house gases. Thus,
the atmosphere is indirectly heated by the
earth’s radiation.
The atmosphere in turn radiates and
transmits heat to the space. Finally the amount
of heat received from the sun is returned to
space, thereby maintaining constant temperature
at the earth’ s surface and in the atmosphere.
Heat Budget of the Planet Earth
Figure 9.2 depicts the heat budget of the
planet earth. The earth as a whole does not
accumulate or loose heat. It maintains its
temperature. This can happen only if the
amount of heat received in the form of
insolation equals the amount lost by the earth
through terrestrial radiation.
Consider that the insolation received at
the top of the atmosphere is 100 per cent.
While passing through the atmosphere some
amount of energy is reflected, scattered and
absorbed. Only the remaining part reaches
Figure 9.2 : Heat budget of the earth
2020-21
FUNDAMENTALS OF PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY 78
Variation in the Net Heat Budget at the Earth’s
Surface
As explained earlier, there are variations in
the amount of radiation received at the earth’ s
surface. Some part of the earth has surplus
radiation balance while the other part has
deficit.
Figure 9.3 depicts the latitudinal variation
in the net radiation balance of the earth —
the atmosphere system. The figure shows that
there is a surplus of net radiation balance
between 40 degrees north and south and the
regions near the poles have a deficit. The
surplus heat energy from the tropics is
redistributed pole wards and as a result the
tropics do not get progressively heated up
due to the accumulation of excess heat or
the high latitudes get permanently frozen due
to excess deficit.
Figure 9.3 : Latitudinal variation in net
    radiation balance
the sea, the air-mass circulation; (iv) the
presence of warm and cold ocean currents;
(v) local aspects.
The latitude : The temperature of a place
depends on the insolation received. It has been
explained earlier that the insolation varies
according to the latitude hence the
temperature also varies accordingly.
The altitude : The atmosphere is indirectly
heated by terrestrial radiation from below.
Therefore, the places near the sea-level record
higher temperature than the places situated
at higher elevations. In other words, the
temperature generally decreases with
increasing height. The rate of decrease of
temperature with height is termed as the
normal lapse rate. It is 6.5°C per 1,000 m.
Distance from the sea : Another factor that
influences the temperature is the location of a
place with respect to the sea. Compared to
land, the sea gets heated slowly and loses heat
slowly . Land heats up and cools down quickly .
Therefore, the variation in temperature over the
sea is less compared to land. The places
situated near the sea come under the
moderating influence of the sea and land
breezes which moderate the temperature.
Air-mass and Ocean currents : Like the land
and sea breezes, the passage of air masses
also affects the temperature. The places,
which come under the influence of warm air-
masses experience higher temperature and
the places that come under the influence of
cold air-masses experience low temperature.
Similarly , the places located on the coast where
the warm ocean currents flow record higher
temperature than the places located on the
coast where the cold currents flow.
Distribution of Temperature
The global distribution of temperature can
well be understood by studying the
temperature distribution in January and July .
The temperature distribution is generally
Temperature
The interaction of insolation with the
atmosphere and the earth’s surface creates
heat which is measured in terms of
temperature. While heat represents the
molecular movement of particles comprising
a substance, the temperature is the
measurement in degrees of how hot (or cold)
a thing (or a place) is.
Factors Controlling Temperature Distribution
The temperature of air at any place is
influenced by  (i) the latitude of the place;
(ii) the altitude of the place; (iii) distance from
2020-21
SOLAR RADIATION, HEAT BALANCE AND TEMPERATURE 79
shown on the map with the help of isotherms.
The Isotherms are lines joining places having
equal temperature. Figure 9.4 (a) and (b)
show the distribution of surface air
temperature in the month of January and
July.
In general the effect of the latitude on
temperature is well pronounced on the map,
as the isotherms are generally parallel to the
latitude.  The deviation from this general trend
is more pronounced in January than in July,
especially in the northern hemisphere. In the
northern hemisphere the land surface area is
much larger than in the southern hemisphere.
Hence, the effects of land mass and the ocean
currents are well pronounced. In January the
isotherms deviate to the north over the ocean
and to the south over the continent. This can
be seen on the North Atlantic Ocean. The
presence of warm ocean currents, Gulf Stream
and North Atlantic drift, make the Northern
Atlantic Ocean warmer and the isotherms
bend towards the north. Over the land the
temperature decreases sharply and the
isotherms bend towards south in Europe.
It is much pronounced in the Siberian
plain. The mean January temperature along
60° E longitude is minus 20° C both at 80° N
and 50° N latitudes. The mean monthly
temperature for January is over 27° C, in
equatorial oceans over 24° C in the tropics
and 2° C - 0° C in the middle latitudes
and –18° C to –48° C in the Eurasian
continental interior.
 The effect of the ocean is well pronounced
in the southern hemisphere. H ere the isotherms
are more or less parallel to the latitudes and
the variation in temperature is more gradual
than in the northern hemisphere. The isotherm
of 20° C, 10° C, and 0° C runs parallel to 35°
S, 45° S and 60° S latitudes respectively.
In July the isotherms generally run
parallel to the latitude. The equatorial oceans
record warmer temperature, more than 27°C.
Figure 9.4 (a) : The distribution of surface air temperature in the month of January
2020-21
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