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Our earth spins on an axis around the North and South Poles. You may be surprised that our earth spin rotates with a slight wobble. Since scientists began measuring, the “wobble” has wobbled 12 meters(37 feet)! Known as the axial precession, the Earth’s wobble is estimated to take over 26,000 years! The earth’s shifting does not affect everyday life. Still, it does cause recalibration of accurate GS locations, including observatories and satellites. The Earth’s Balance that is shifting is its Energy Balance. Our sun is the driver of energy on Earth. What makes the Earth unique among all of the planets in our solar system is that the Earth’s atmosphere, water, and land take in the radiant heat of the solar rays, absorbing some and reflecting some back into the universe. The Earth is a temperate planet compared to the rocky planets- Venus, Mercury, Mars, and a warmer world than the icy planets -Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. The incoming energy and outgoing energy from the land and water on earth drive our climate and provide us with our home.

Activity 1 – Radiation Balance ar Earth's Surface

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The radiation balance at the Earth’s surface evaporates water, losing heat. The solar radiation on the Earth’s surface sets in motion convection and conduction, also losing heat. However, due to the sun’s rotation, the world only receives solar radiation during daylight hours, while it emits infrared radiation twenty-four hours a day. Only a tiny portion of the sun’s radiation is released back into space. Most radiation is cast back into the atmosphere, absorbed by clouds and greenhouse gases. This is known as the Greenhouse Effect. It is what keeps our planet warm. Draw a diagram that shows the radiation balance at the Earth’s surface.

Activity 2 – Radiation Balance for Earth's Atmosphere

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The primary process that causes energy loss from the atmosphere is the emission of infrared radiation inward to Earth’s surface and outward to space. As you have learned, approximately 3/5ths of infrared radiation is emitted back from the atmosphere to Earth, and another two/fifths of infrared radiation is ejected into space. Draw a diagram that shows the Solar radiation incoming and the infrared incoming and outgoing.

Activity 3 – Energy Balance for Earth’s Surface and Atmosphere

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The energy gained from the sun is balanced by the energy lost. This is key to the Earth’s constant average temperature. However, this fragile balance is changing, and Earth is getting hotter. The critical point is to retain the current balance to 1.5 degrees Celsius increase. Draw a balanced earth temperature. What can you do to make a difference? Look at the Climate Change journey to see the consequences of increasing the Earth’s temperature beyond a 1.5% Celsius rise.


  • What two main components are in earth's atmosphere?
  • What causes changes in density, temperature, and pressure in our atmosphere?
  • Hotter and cooler areas on earth must retain what over the long term?
  • Electro Magnetic Radiation travels through space
  • The amount of Energy that the sun sends is measured by
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