Mini Lesson/Activity

Analyzing Earth’s Energy Imbalance by Latitude and Month (Student Activity)

Student Directions

This chart shows the average imbalance of energy in the Earth System shown by latitudinal zonal bands per month from 2000-2017. Analyze this chart to answer the questions below.

the annual cycle of zonal standard deviation of net flux
Hakuba, Maria & Stephens, Graeme & Christophe, Bruno & Nash, Alfred & Foulon, Bernard & Bettadpur, Srinivas & Tapley, Byron & Webb, Frank. (2018). Earth's Energy Imbalance Measured From Space. IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing. PP. 1-14. 10.1109/TGRS.2018.2851976. 

  1. Describe the latitude zone/s where you see the biggest range in values? Why do you think this is?
  2. What months do you observe the greatest change by latitude?
  3. What zones change the least? Why do you think this is?

Need help visualizing latitudinal zones?

We know that lines of latitude are the angular measurements of north-south location on Earth and that these horizontal lines range from 90° South (at the South pole), 0° (all along the equator), to 90° North (at the North pole).

The map below shows groups of latitudes, which are referred to as zones; they include:

  • The Arctic Zone (90.0°N - 64.2°N)
  • The N. Mid-Latitude Zone (64.2°N - 23.5°N)
  • The Tropic Zone (between 23.5°N and 23.5°S)
  • The S. Mid-Latitude Zone (23.5°S - 64.2°S)
  • The Antarctic Zone (64.2°S - 90.0°S)

Zones of Latitude

Teacher Note

Teachers, these mini-lessons/student activities are perfect "warm-up" tasks that can be used as a hook, bellringer, exit slip, etc.

Teachers who are interested in receiving the answer key, please contact MND from your school email address at  We verify that requestors are teachers prior to sending access to the answer keys as we’ve had many students try to pass as teachers to gain access. To receive the keys please provide the following:

  1. The link to the school/institution’s teacher directory where you are employed so we can verify that you are a teacher
  2. Ensure that the school email address is provided in your response as we are unable to send to personal email accounts

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