Fundamentals of Atmospheric Science

Summary and Final Tasks


This lesson provided you with a basic understanding of atmospheric radiation. You should now be familiar with the following basic concepts:

  • when radiation encounters matter, it can only be transmitted, absorbed, or scattered
  • solar variability
  • all objects are emitting radiation all the time
  • emissivity = absorptivity at the same wavelength
  • the molecular cause of absorption of different wavelengths of radiation by objects of different chemical composition
  • Beer’s Law, which quantifies how much radiation will be absorbed as atmospheric radiation travels through an absorbing medium
  • Schwarzschild’s equation, which quantifies the change in radiant energy per distance traveled through an emitting medium due to emission by layers and absorption of those emissions by layers above and below it, which are also emitting
  • the dependence of the behavior of scattering on the wavelength of the radiation and the size of the scattering object

We will use many of these concepts in the next lesson on Applications of Atmospheric Radiation, in which we will consider two cases important to the atmosphere and weather: Earth’s radiant energy balance and Earth observed in the infrared by satellites in space.

Reminder - Complete all of the Lesson 6 tasks!

You have reached the end of Lesson 6! Double-check that you have completed all of the activities before you begin Lesson 7.