the sun is constantly hitting the earth with many terrawatts of energy and yet the temperature on earth is relatively stable. Where does all this energy go?


Does the earth also emit a comparable amount of energy somehow?

In: 3

The earth does.

All things that have temperature emit radiation – light – but human eyes only pick up some of it. Infrared radiation is one section that human eyes can’t see – and the Earth radiates a lot of it into space, cooling the Earth.

This is actually why global warming is a problem. “Greenhouse gasses” are gasses that block the particular kind of light that Earth emits; preventing that light from getting out into space; and keeping the Earth warmer.

Most of the energy the sun transmits doesn’t hit earth. The energy that does is the reason the earth isn’t -220°c, like on Pluto. It does significantly heat up the earth.

Another part of it is that it doesn’t just heat up the surface of earth, but the ground beneath it gets some of the warmth as well. The air does too. The atmosphere absorbs a lot of the heat the earth gets from the sun.

Lastly, the earth does indeed reflect some of the energy back into space.

The earth doesn’t get too hot or too cold ’cause it gets energy from the sun but also gives it back through, like, radiation or something. And the reason it stays this way is because of stuff like greenhouse gases, ocean currents, and how clouds and the earth reflect light.

The Earth has an atmosphere which regulates temperature and gives us a relatively stable warm climate. If the Earth didn’t have an atmosphere, it would have no way of trapping heat. It would be scorching hot during the day while the sunlight hits the surface, but frozen at night when you’re not in direct sunlight (like what’s happening with the planet Mercury).

Without something to trap the heat, it’s basically lost to space very quickly once you’re out of direct sunlight.

But if the atmosphere was too thick, then it would trap *too much* heat, and the climate would be impossibly hot day and night (like on Venus).