Atmosphere and Air Temperature
The Earth's atmosphere is the area between the Earth's surface and the edge of space. It acts as a thin blanket between the sun and the Earth. The heat from the sun has an effect on the temperature of the air. The heat from the sun is transmitted through the atmosphere and the Earth's surface becomes heated. The sun warms the Earth throughout the year but at different temperatures due to several variables.
The air temperature of an area, whether cold or hot depends upon the angle at which the Earth is tilted, and will affect the amount of heat an area of the Earth receives. Air temperature is the measure of how hot or cold the air is and can be measured by using a thermometer.
The hottest area of the Earth is near the equator. The equator is an imaginary line forming a great circle around the Earth's surface separating the Earth into the Northern and Southern hemispheres. The equator is the hottest area because the sun's path is directly above the Earth in that location.
Unlike the equator, the north and south poles are the coldest places on the Earth because the sun is at a low angle in that area. Even though the sun is closer to Earth's surface in that area, the sun's rays are much weaker. There is not a direct path like at the equator.
Another variable affecting the temperature of the air is called insolation. The angle of insolation is the angle at which sunlight strikes the Earth's surface. Isolation is short for incoming solar radiation, which is the amount of the Sun's energy that reaches Earth at a given place and time.
Sunlight warms the Earth in summer and winter. The amount of heat depends on the angle of insolation. The greater the angle, the warmer it gets. Since the angle is always less at the poles, it is colder in those areas. Because of the tilt of the Earth, if it is freezing in one part of the world, it is hot in another part.
The time of day also has an effect on the temperature of the air. In the morning the sun is close to the horizon, and at mid-day the sun is higher up in the sky. After mid-day the sun is again lower in the sky. These changes, due to the tilt of the Earth, is the reason it is warmer during the mid-day and cooler in the mornings and evenings.
The next variable affecting the temperature of the air in an area is the texture of the Earth's surface in that area. The texture of the Earth is how smooth or rough the surface is. Rough textures cause light to bounce around at many angles and more of the sun's heat is absorbed the surface. This cause the areas to become hotter.
Finally, dark colors get hotter than light colors in the same light. Dark soils and rocks can also get very hot. On the other hand, plants help keep an area cooler in the sunlight.
In summary, the Earth's atmosphere is like a very thin blanket in which the sun's rays pass through at different angles. The angles are called angles of insolation and is the amount of energy reaching Earth at a given place and time. The hottest area of the Earth is at the equator. There are many variables affecting how hot or cold the air is, which is also called the air temperature. Other variables include the texture of the Earth and the colors of objects that are absorbing the sun's rays.
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