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The surface energy budget

heatwave What happens to the energy absorbed at the Earth's surface?

How is it released so the ground doesn't heat up too much?

Although globally, the incoming and outgoing radiation must balance, this is not the case at specific locations on the Earth's surface. From day to day, there is sometimes an excess amount of energy at the surface during the day, and a loss during the night. Excess energy at the surface is turned into heat and moisture flows. Also, winds carry heat and moisture horizontally and help regain balance.

Sensible Heat

Sensible heat is heat we can "sense" and measure with a thermometer. It is transferred via conduction and convection which you can learn about here from Fox Valley Technical College. In the case of the surface energy budget, sensible heat flux occurs between the surface and the atmosphere when there is a temperature difference between the two.
  • When the surface is warmer than the air, heat flows from the surface to the air.
  • If the surface is colder than the air, heat flows from the air to the surface.
Next page   -> latent heat

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