Emission Temperature of a Planet 

Use the linked interactive model to answer the questions below.  Instructions on how to use the model are given below. The mathematics of the model are also available.

Interactive Model
The model requires you to have a Java enabled Web browser. 
  • Why does the effective temperature change with a change in solar output?
  • Explain why changing your planet's albedo modifies the planet's effective temperature.
  • When is it useful to use a log scale?
  • When is it useful to use a linear scale?
  • Why does Venus have a lower emission temperature than Earth? 

You control two properties of a planet: albedo and its distance from the Sun.  The albedo is the ratio of the radiation of radiation reflect by an object to the energy incident upon it.  You also control the energy output of the sun.  As you vary these parameters the emission temperature of the planet changes and is plotted on a graph as a function of distance from the Sun.  The temperature axis can be plotted as degrees Kelvin (K), Celsius (C), or Fahrenheit (F).  The emission temperature of the nine planets is plotted with the following key: Mercury (M), Venus (V), Earth (E) Mars (M), Jupiter (J), Saturn (S), Uranus (U), Neptune (N) and Pluto (P).  Both axes can be plotted on a linear or logarithmic scale, you decide.

When you are finished, you can experiment with another simplified climate model - adding an atmosphere.

Simple Climate Models | Systems | Emission Temperature | Exercise I | Exercise II | Directory of Related Links
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Steve Ackerman