In the atmosphere, convection currents occur due to the heating of the Earth's surface by radiant energy from the sun. As the air near the ground warms, it becomes less dense and rises. Colder, dense air falls to the surface where the earth heats it, creating a cycle.Continue Reading
Convection currents play an important role in Earth's weather patterns. They are responsible for winds and precipitation. The warm air from the surface of the Earth carries water vapor up into the atmosphere. As the air cools, its capacity to hold water decreases, so the vapor forms clouds. In the ocean, convection heating is responsible for the ocean currents, which also affect the weather patterns.
Convection currents occur in the magma of the Earth. These currents drive plate tectonics. Radioactive decay in the core of the Earth produces enough heat to melt the rocks that form magma. The heating causes the liquid to rise toward the surface and break up the continental and oceanic crust into over 12 rigid plates. The convection currents cause the plates to spread, and the cooling magma forms new rocks. At the opposite ends of the plates, at the convergent zones, the movement pushes the edges of the plates underground where they melt and recycle to form more magma.Learn more about Thermodynamics
Thermal radiation is the process through which energy is emitted from a heated surface in all directions in the form of electromagnetic radiation. The emitted radiation travels directly to its point of absorption at the speed of light.Full Answer >
In addition to providing the oxygen and carbon dioxide necessary to support life on Earth, the atmosphere also blocks harmful radiation from the sun and traps heat to make the surface of the planet habitable. Without the atmosphere, the Earth's environment would resemble that of the moon.Full Answer >
Clouds serve as reflectors of incoming solar radiation, also called insolation, which is the short-wave radiated energy from the sun that propagates through the Earth's atmosphere. However, the extent to which an individual cloud reflects insolation depends on its thickness, as thin clouds reflect less insolation than thick clouds.Full Answer >
The sun is important to Earth because it warms the seas, generates weather patterns, stirs the atmosphere and provides energy to growing plants. The plants are responsible for providing oxygen and food for life to exist on Earth, according to the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration.Full Answer >