Penn State NASA

Goals and Learning Outcomes


Goals and Learning Outcomes


On completing this module, students are expected to be able to:

  • describe how energy is absorbed, stored, and moved around in Earth's climate system;
  • distinguish how the amount of energy stored determines the temperature;
  • interpret the importance of feedback mechanisms that make our climate system sensitive to forcings, but also provide a stabilizing influence;
  • infer how temperature responds to changes in solar input, albedo, and greenhouse gas concentrations;
  • evaluate how simple (i.e., STELLA) models can be used to make projections of climate variables.

Learning Outcomes

After completing this module, students should be able to answer the following questions:

  • What are heat and thermal energy?
  • What are the different types of electromagnetic radiation?
  • What is blackbody radiation and what is the significance of the Stefan-Boltzmann law?
  • What is emissivity and what is its significance?
  • What is albedo and what are albedo values for different materials?
  • What is the solar constant and how is it measured?
  • What is insolation and what are its geographic and annual distributions?
  • What does sunspot history look like and how is it related to solar intensity?
  • What are the relative heat capacities of different materials?
  • What is the greenhouse effect and what are the different greenhouse gasses?
  • What are the basic energy flows in the atmosphere?
  • What is positive and negative feedback and what are examples of each?
  • What are the energy budgets of different latitudes?
  • How is heat transferred in the atmosphere?
  • How is heat transferred in the oceans?
  • What is the Global Conveyor Belt and what is its significance?