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Cooling factors

Philippe Rekacewicz, UNEP/GRID-Arendal

This qualitative graphic illustrates the various factors that affect the amount of solar radiation hitting or being absorbed by Earth's surface such as aerosols, clouds, and albedo.

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Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Sunlight warms the planet
About Teaching Principle 1
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Role of aerosols in climate system
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Climate is variable
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Benchmarks for Science Literacy
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Light and other electromagnetic waves can warm objects. How much an object's temperature increases depends on how intense the light striking its surface is, how long the light shines on the object, and how much of the light is absorbed.
Explore the map of concepts related to this benchmark

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • Can be used to teach about albedo.
  • Educator may need to look further into albedo - open water also reflects and ice also absorbs, but it's the relative effect; also explore with students how albedo works.
  • Educator may need to alleviate confusion about how aerosols are both reflecting and absorbing energy.

About the Science

  • Good visual of the radiative budget without any quantification of the effect of each of the factors.
  • Because factors are not quantified, the graph stays current (publication date 2000).
  • Passed initial science review - expert science review pending.

About the Pedagogy

  • This visualization can act as the seed for a discussion of the effect of these various cooling factors on climate change.

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