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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 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”.

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.