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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.


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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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