Special Edition :
Table of Contents Sun: Is it responsible for certain phenomena? pg. 3 Ocean Currents
The Water Cycle
Wind: How does it blow?
Seasons: Why do they happen?
Energy: How does it interact with Earthâ€™s atmosphere?
THE SUN Is it responsible for certain phenomena? Ocean Currents The Sun is a key factor to almost everything on this planet. Being the main source of energy, the Sun affects many phenomena that take place on Earth. Ocean currents, for example, are greatly influenced by the sun. Sun is responsible for wind, which causes friction in the surface of the sea. The friction causes the water to move in the direction of the wind, creating an ocean current. Wind can be very fast and blow extremely hard, but it can only reach about 100 meter deep in the ocean. Because of this, most ocean currents flow close to the surface. Ocean currents are also affected by the Sun because it changes the waterâ€™s temperature and salinity. Colder and saltier due to evaporation water is less dense. The difference in density between currents it what allows them to flow along or past each other. It results in thermohaline circulation, which causes great cold, salty currents to move from the Northern Atlantic to the Northern Pacific and bring fresh water back to the starting point. 3
The Water Cycle
The sun also has a great influence on the water cycle, for it actually conducts it. The water cycle consists of four stages: evaporation, condensation, precipitation, and collection. Even though it is a never-ending cycle, it starts with evaporation. The sun heats the bodies of water in Earth (oceans, lakes, and rivers) and causes the molecules in them to move faster. The molecules move faster and faster until they reach the point of evaporation, which is when the water has reached a temperature of 100째 C at sea level. The water evaporates and becomes cooler as it rises. Once it is cool enough, it condenses into clouds. Later it rains, or precipitates. The water that falls is either absorbed by soil or flows back into the oceans or lakes eventually. If it was not because the Sun causes evaporation, the water cycle would cease to exit. Therefore, clouds, rain, and even weather would disappear as well. Water in Earth will be static and most likely frozen because there would be no sun warming it. 4
Plant growth Plant growth depends greatly on the sun, too. In facts, it is directly involved with sunlight. Plants need light to live. Artificial light serves allows year-round growth and a very effective production. However, it does not give a plant half the nutrients natural sunlight does. Plants depend of light for food, growth, and health. Most plants have a pigment named chlorophyll, which gives them the color green. Chlorophyll, though, has a much more important role than just the giving a plant its color. This pigment absorbs sunlight and uses it for the process of photosynthesis. During photosynthesis, plants break down carbon dioxide and converts in into organic compounds. Plants release oxygen as a result of photosynthesis. Without photosynthesis, there would not be enough oxygen in this planet to support life. In the end, plants would not be able to grow and feed without the energy from the sun. They would not be able of producing or blooming. Because of it, the energy from the sun is essential to life on Earth.
Winds are another phenomena influenced largely by the sun. Winds are created when air within the atmosphere is heat up because of solar radiation. The heat causes warm air to become lighter and rise. At the same time, cold air is heavier, so it sinks on top of the warm air. This causes pressure. The differences in pressure between airs cause it to flow in the form of wind. Similarly to the water cycle, the whole process starts due to solar radiation.
WIND How does it blow? Wind is the movement of air that moves from an area of higher pressure to an area of lower pressure. When winds are created in the atmosphere, they flow in different directions due to many reasons. On earth, many winds originate in the Equatorial regions, for they are heated the most because the sun rays hit them more directly. Air in the Equator heats and rises, leaving low pressure areas behind. About 30° North and 30° sound from the Equator, most air sinks. Some of the sinking air goes back to the Equator and the rest flow toward the poles. Because Earth rotates, winds don’t flow directly. A result of Earth’s rotation is the Corilis Effect. When air moves from high o low pressure in the Northern Hemisphere, it is defected to the right due to the Corilis Effect. Meanwhile, in the southern hemisphere winds are deflected left for the same reason. 7
The way wind deflects depends on its speed and location. Winds traveling at a fast speed will be greatly deflected while slow wind wonâ€™t be largely deflected. As the winds blow closer to the pole, the Corilis Effect acts more strongly. On the Equator, though, the Corilis Effect does not act at all.
After rising in the Equator and sinking again, some winds blow back to the equator. These are called trade winds. They are characterized because they are commonly warm, continuous breezes. Trade winds meet near the Equator, collide, and cause upward winds. The winds that donâ€™t return to the Equator move either North or South. Winds that blow to the North are called prevailing westerlies. Prevailing westerlies are mainly responsible for the weather of the United States and Canada. In either the North or the South, prevailing westerlies meet polar easterlies, which form when the atmosphere in the poles cools and causes cold air to sink and spread throughout the surface.
SEASONS Why do they happen? Seasons are caused by the position of the Earth and the solar light. The Earthâ€™s axis is tilted perpendicularly. Because of this slight tilt of 23.45Â°, different areas of the planet receive direct light throughout the year. The Earth revolves around the sun all year long, with allows all the most areas of the globe be oriented toward the sun at some point. In the months of June, July, and August, for example, the Northern Hemisphere is oriented towards the sun. Because of that, those are months of
summer. Temperatures rise and days last longer because sunlight hits the area directly. During the same time, the southern hemisphere is oriented opposite to the sun, which is why winter takes place. Temperatures decrease and days are shorter because 9
sun rays reach the area at an extreme angle. Spring and autumn happen when the place or area is neither oriented nor disoriented towards the sun. In some areas of the globe â€“like the Equatorials and the Poles â€“ seasons donâ€™t occur as accurately as in other parts. The reason is that the Equatorials, since they are in the middle of the Earth, always receive sunlight at an even angle that does not vary greatly. As for the poles, sunlight reaches them at a very extreme angle. Because of that, in the poles (especially in Antarctica) there can be 6 months of unceasing sunlight and 6 months of complete darkness.
ENERGY How does it interact with Earth’s atmosphere? Within the atmosphere, energy is transferred though conduction, convection, and radiation. Pretty much all the energy that reaches the atmosphere –and then the Earthcomes from the sun. Solar energy reaches the earth through electromagnetic waves. The transfer of energy through electromagnetic waves is radiation. Some of the energy that reaches the atmosphere is absorbed by substances within the atmosphere such as ozone. Contrarily, the remaining energy is reflected back into space. Some of this energy reaches the Earth and is reflected while other does not even penetrate the atmosphere. Because air is an insulator and not a conductor of heat, most conduction happens in Earth’s surface and not in the atmosphere anymore. Nevertheless, solar radiation, which causes heat in Earth’s ground, first goes through the atmosphere. Convection occurs in great amounts in the atmosphere, for it precisely occurs in fluids that allow heat 11
to move more freely. In fact, winds are caused by convection in the atmosphere. Hot air rises and cold air
sinks, which allows heat and moisture to be distributed evenly throughout the atmosphere. Clouds and storms form from rising hot air. The atmosphere evenly distributes heat on the Earthâ€™s surface. It controls the energy that comes in and the one that does not. Regrettably, today global warming is causing the atmosphere to deteriorate and to interact with energy in different manners, causing temperatures to rise and heat to be distributed unevenly. 12
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