June 1, 2009 Issue

Physics To Go 74 - Clouds/global warming

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Physics in Your World

Ship Tracks South of Alaska image
credits--smaller image & larger image: NASA/GSFC, MODIS Rapid Response; smaller & larger image source

Ship Tracks South of Alaska

These tracks were made south of Alaska when water vapor condensed on particles in ships' exhausts.
-- Click on the image for the same scene in false color, showing the relative size of the particles: yellow-orange indicates small particles; lavender-purple, large ones.
-- To find out how the particle size affects the intensity of the scattered sunlight, visit Ship Tracks South of Alaska.
-- To learn about the effects of aircraft contrails on Earth's climate, see this Physics in Your World.

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Physics at Home

A Student's Guide to Global Climate Change

Check out this Environmental Protection Agency guide that helps students learn all about climate change.


From Physics Research

The Blue Marble from Apollo 17 image
image credit: NASA Johnson Space Center/Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth; image source; larger image

The Blue Marble from Apollo 17

This view of the "Big Blue Marble" was captured by the crew of Apollo 17.
-- Note how bright the clouds appear from space.
-- The fraction of sunlight an astronomical object reflects is called its albedo, about 0.3 for Earth.
-- To find out how its albedo affects Earth's climate, visit The Blue Marble from Apollo 17.

Worth a Look

Global Warming, Clouds and Albedo: Feedback Loops

For diagrams of Earth's water cycle and energy budget, with explanations, see Global Warming, Clouds and Albedo: Feedback Loops.

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