UCSB Science Line
Sponge Spicules Nerve Cells Galaxy Abalone Shell Nickel Succinate X-ray Lens Lupine
UCSB Science Line
How it Works
Ask a Question
Search Topics
Our Scientists
Science Links
Contact Information
How does the sun heat the earth?
Question Date: 2005-01-23
Answer 1:

The sun heats the earth through radiation. Since there is no medium (like the gas in our atmosphere) in space, radiation is the primary way that heat travels in space. When the heat reaches the earth it warms the molecules of the atmosphere, and they warm other molecules and so on. This heat transfer is called conduction. It also keeps the Earth warm at night when the sun rays are not available. This is in contrast to space where heat can only exist where the heat waves are traveling, leaving huge temperature differences between a place in the sun and a place in the shadow.

Answer 2:

The sun emits light, and light is energy. The light travels to the Earth, and is absorbed into it, generating heat. It works in much the same way as a fire does in a fireplace - the light (most of which you can't see, because it's too long wavelength) heats up the room>

Click Here to return to the search form.

University of California, Santa Barbara Materials Research Laboratory National Science Foundation
This program is co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation and UCSB School-University Partnerships
Copyright © 2020 The Regents of the University of California,
All Rights Reserved.
UCSB Terms of Use