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Students analyze map visualizations representing the amount of Sun’s energy received on the Earth as indicated by the amount that is reflected back to space, known as “albedo”.

Energy Cycle

Energy from the Sun is the driver of many Earth System processes. This energy flows into the Atmosphere and heats this system up It also heats up the Hydrosphere and the land surface of the Geosphere, and fuels many processes in the Biosphere.

Students play the role of nitrogen atoms traveling through the nitrogen cycle to gain an understanding of the varied pathways through the cycle and the relevance of nitrogen to living things. 

Students will analyze and interpret graphs to compare the flow of (shortwave) energy from the Sun toward China over the course of a year on cloudy versus clear days. Students will draw a conclusion and support it with evidence.

Students will analyze and interpret maps of the average net atmospheric radiation to compare the flow of energy from the Sun toward Earth in different months and for cloudy versus clear days. Students will draw conclusions and support them with evidence.

Students move through a series of short activities to explore and evaluate global solar radiation data from NASA satellites.  In this process, students make qualitative and quantitative observations about seasonal variations in net energy input to the Earth system.