As the earth is constantly heated by the sun and we have the law of conservation of energy. Why is the Earth not constantly warming up?


So we have long-term Ice-Ages, but also relatively short term ([](

When the temperature is going down (on average), where does the energy go?


PS. I am fully convinced we have climate change, we are the problem, etc. I only care about the ‘scientific’ answer.

In: Earth Science

The planets emit heat energy out into space. The vacuum of space prevents conduction or convection, how we normally cool ourselves on earth.

Heat loss is through the portion of the electro-magnetic spectrum we call heat/infrared.

we also radiate energy (heat) outwards into space, so only if the difference between energy absorbed and energy emitted is positive we heat up, that’s why the gases in our atmosphere are so important

About 30% is directly reflected back into space. Another 25% is absorbed by the atmosphere with some of that being re-radiated back into space. A lot of heat goes into evaporating water from the oceans. During Ice Ages more heat is reflected due to high albedo of the ice (kind of a self-reinforcing loop).

The sunlight warms up the earth, earth radiates its warmth in infra red, it is also a kind of light, but not visible to you. Luckily our atmosphere is transparant for both visible and some invisible kinds of “light”.. UV for example (on the other end of the spectrum) is mostly blocked, but infrared can and will escape, so our earth radiates its warmth into space.

Now, CO2, methane and other nasty gasses are not transparent for infrared, it reflects it. That is, in a nutshell, the greenhouse effect.

The Earth is basically a giant light bulb, emitting light (technically “electromagnetic radiation”) into space. This uses energy.

You may not think of the Earth as emitting light. All objects do, but the color (technically “frequency”) of the light depends on the temperature of the object. In general we can only see colors emitted by objects that are hotter than we are (e.g. the Sun), since there’d be no point in being able to see the light emitted by our own eyeballs.

(This is how “heat”-seeking missiles and some types of night-vision goggles work. They don’t actually detect heat; they detect the *light* emitted by objects that are hotter than their surroundings.)

Not a professional, so I can only give you a glimpse, till someone gives you a very accurate answer.

The heat from the sun is emitted through light rays, which is also called solar radiation. The earth reflects about 30% of the incoming solar radiation through the ocean, land and even clouds, clouds making up to 50% of the reflected energy.

However, the most important part about the reflection and absorption does the ozone layer, which is the outer “gas” layer of the earth. It absorbs around 95% of harmful UV lights that are emitted from the sun.

Because of our “natural” reflection, the ozone layer, as well as the clouds, we are able to have the incoming heat be reduced by a lot.

Now, due to the release of certain gases, Halogen gases, we destroy the ozone layer. Halogen gases can be found in pretty much everything around us.

The release of halogen gases into the air will have the effect of destroying the molecules of the ozone layer, which in return leaves “holes” (ozone holes) that impacts the earth by a lot, because due to the created holes, more heat and harmful UV lights are absorbed by the earth and can even have health risks for us humans. You can imagine that a full block cheese will take longer to heat up, compared to a cheese full of holes.

[here]( is a great link that I think will help or just google earth’s energy budget

Although our atmosphere is pretty good and keeing the heat energy in, it still radiates heat away and also allows a portion of the surface heat to be radiated away. On the “night side” of the earth it radiates away heat without receiving new sunlight, which is how it cools down at night.