Students investigate Earth’s energy balance through a guided inquiry activity. Through their investigations, students will learn that the amount of sunlight the Earth absorbs depends on the reflectiveness of the atmosphere and the Earth’s surface. The term albedo is used to define the percentage of radiation reflected back by a surface. Snow and ice have a high albedo where most of the sunlight hitting the surface bounces back towards space. Water is much more absorbent and less reflective. Dark colored land surfaces are strongly absorptive (low albedo) and contribute to warming. (This video lesson highlights Extension activity 1 from lesson 2 of the MEECS Climate Change Unit.)
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