- While solar energy runs the planet, it also heats the planet, and in an age of climate change, it would be awfully helpful to know precisely how much energy the sun is sending our way.
- But it turns out that’s pretty hard to calculate, since there’s usually a shifting screen of clouds between the sun and the Earth, which reflects energy back into space.
- While we see clouds often, scientists haven’t cracked how to calculate how much energy they block. They’ve developed a mathematical model, but aren’t sure if it matches how energy dynamics work.
- That’s in part because clouds have such irregular surfaces — they aren’t a smooth mirror, they reflect energy in lots of different directions at once. And clouds are always growing, shrinking, and moving.
- The moon is much less troublesome — we know the details of its shape and composition. And on Aug. 21, it will be acting, in some ways, like a giant cloud as it casts a shadow on Earth. Read more (7/21/17)