How does solar energy affect climate change?

1 Answer
Feb 29, 2016

It's complicated.


To start with you need to know that all the energy in the atmosphere came from the sun. The energy for all weather comes from the sun.

Since climate is just long term weather, the energy for climate comes from the sun as well.

We all know that greenhouse gases are the most discussed factor in climate change but if you look at the energy budget between the Earth and sun something should become obvious.

The numbers are all percentages. That means if the hard numbers of one factor increase, they all increase.

Since the number are percentages this is the average energy budget. If the amount of energy from the sun increases or decreases (it does) then the hard numbers for the percentages increase and decrease.

So what happens is that if more energy is coming in from the sun, in order to keep the percentages the same that means that the surface of the Earth has to get warmer so the amount of heat it radiates can increase. The same is true for the atmosphere.

This is where some confusion is caused in the climate change debate. If the amount of energy from the sun decreases, then the temperatures on the whole budget decreases and that means the climate can appear to be cooling when in fact it is still warming.

I think this answers the question you asked. If not go ahead and send me a message.