Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Sustainability Science and Technology

pp 9731-9740

Solar Radiation Versus Climate Change

  • Martin WildAffiliated withInstitute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, ETH Zurich Email author 

Definition of the Subject

Solar radiation incident at the Earth’s surface is the ultimate energy source for life on the planet, and largely determines the climatic conditions of our habitats. The amount of solar energy reaching the surface is a major component of the surface energy balance and governs a large number of diverse surface processes, such as evaporation and associated hydrological components, snow and glacier melt, plant photosynthesis and related terrestrial carbon uptake, as well as the diurnal and seasonal course of surface temperatures.

It has also major practical implications, for example, for solar energy technologies and agricultural productivity. Changes in the amount of solar energy reaching the Earth’s surface can therefore have profound environmental, societal, and economic implications. There is increasing evidence that the amount of solar radiation incident at the Earth’s surface i ...

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