Effects of Solar Radiation on Land and Sea

This brief, hands-on activity illustrates the different heating capacities of soil and water in order to understand why places near the sea have a more moderate climate than those inland.

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Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Climate Research Facility as part of U.S. Department of Energy

Notes From Our Reviewers

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Teaching Tips

Teaching Tips

Educators could introduce these ideas by focusing on how the specific heat of different substances impacts climate.

More information on how to do reliable and comparable reading of a thermometer and how to set up the experiment so that the results are comparable would be very helpful.

Try to take the buckets of soil and water outside the classroom and set them up in direct sunlight close to solar noon (when the sun is at the highest point in the sky).

Educator needs to make sure that the soil is well mixed and not wet. It might be easier to use sand instead of soil -- identical materials (no mix of grain sizes) will make the results more comparable.

Discussion part of project needs more guidance from educator.

Activity can also be done as a demonstration.

A great opportunity for educator to make the connection between this activity and regional climate variability, but more information is needed for this extension and is not provided.

Literacy and Resources

Grade Level: