ERTH 535:
Planetary Climate Change
(Spring 2018)
Problem #1
(5 pts total; due in class Monday, Feb. 5)
Dr. Dave Dempsey
Dept. of Earth & Climate Sci.,


  1. [5 pts] In Lab Activity #1: Seasonal Temperature Changes, you examined a color-shaded, global plot of the difference between July and January surface temperatures for a particular year. In our discussion, we identified a number of discernible features of this plot without trying to explain them. (See the summary of discussion of Lab Activity #1, posted on the schedule of class assignments along with Lab Activity #1.)

    Then, in Lab Activity #2: The Seasons, we analyzed both satellite observations of insolation (in My World GIS) and schematic diagrams of the earth at the solstices and equinoxes to try to understand how and why the amount of solar radiation reaching the earth varies (i) with time of year at any particular place; and (ii) with latitude at any particular time of year. (See the partial summary of class discussion of Lab Activity #2: The Seasons, posted on the schedule of class assignments along with Lab Activity #2). To do this, we developed an understanding of how sun angle and length of daylight affect monthly-average insolation.

    Assuming that the monthly-average insolation at any particular place has a strong influence on monthly-average surface temperature at that place, do the following:

    1. Identify which features (of those identified in class) of the July – January surface temperature difference plot might be explained by what we learned in Lab Activity #2. (Some can't!)

    2. For each of those features, explain briefly but clearly how we might account for them in terms of seasonal and latitudinal differences in length of daylight and sun angle and their (presumed) influence on monthly average insolation.

      (Note: For your purposes here, use differences in sun angle at solar noon as a surrogate for differences in sun angle at other times of day.)

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