In this activity, you are going to make a rough estimate for the heat capacity of the entire atmosphere and compare this with the heat capacity of the ocean.

Then you'll connect these ideas with the global climate. (Be prepared to use Google Sheets/Excel for your calculations.)Estimate the mass of the ocean.

The ocean occupies about 70% of the surface of Earth, with an average depth of 3,682 meters. Estimate the volume of ocean water using the equation for the volume of a spherical shell. You can then convert the volume to a mass using the average density of sea water which is approximately 1.028 kg/L. (The specific heat value needs to be converted from kg/L to kg/m3.

There are 1000 L in a m3)Calculate the heat capacity of the ocean. Using a specific heat of 3850 J/(kg K) for sea water, what is the heat capacity of the ocean? Heat capacity has the units of J/K.Estimate the mass of the atmosphere.

We can estimate that the global mean surface pressure is about 984 hPa (the standard model uses 1013 hPa at sea level, and we have higher elevations over most of the land masses on Earth).

The air pressure at the surface is due to Earth's gravitational pull on the mass of the atmosphere, and we can use these ideas to calculate the mass of the atmosphere. Force is mass times acceleration, and pressure is force per area. P=FA=mgA

if g = 9.8 m/s, the radius of Earth is 6.37 x 106 m and the surface area of Earth may be found using 4?R2.

Calculate the heat capacity of the atmosphere. The specific heat of air depends on the temperature, but on average it is around 1000 J/(kg K). What is the heat capacity of the atmosphere?What do you think these differences mean for Earth's climate system?

2: Share you views in a group of 2 to 3 students. Be sure to write down the full names of your partners.

3: What did you learn from your group discussion? What is different and what is common between your answers? Did sharing change your perspective in anyway? Explain.

Submit a short paragraph with your definition for specific heat versus heat capacity and the connection to global climate, be sure to add the names of the 1 to 2 students you worked with in this exercise, and reflect on how working with peers shaped your final answer.

Part 2: Atmospheric Water Vapor and Buoyancy

(This will be worth 0.25% extra credit toward your final grade if we run out of time in class! )

1: If the Earth's surface is on average warmer than aloft, why is air not rising all the time? Think about what causes air to rise, and consider what happens to an air parcel as it rises or sinks. What if there is moisture in the air parcel?

2: Share your thoughts on atmospheric buoyancy with a group of 2 to 3 students. (In this second activity, you must work with different people.) Be sure to write down their names.

3: What did you learn from your group? Did this change how you think about the atmosphere?Submit a short paragraph describing the energy bathtub analogy. Be sure to note the names of the 1 to 2 students you worked with in this exercise.

Remember that you must work with different students in order to receive full credit for this exercise. Also be sure to explain how your answer was changed, improved, or reinforced after speaking with your group.

Global climate - Heat capacity of atmosphere Vs heat capacity of ocean.

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