Field and Laboratory

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The temperature of the earth depends largely upon the energy received from the sun, and the promptness with which this energy is returned to space. In the long run the energy received by the earth must be equal to that given out. If the energy received is returned at once, it will have no effect upon the temperature of the earth. In this case the earth will be just as cold as it would be if the sun did not exist. This means, of course, that there must be a lag in the return of solar energy if it is to heat the earth. The earth either reflects or absorbs the energy it receives. If it is reflected, it is returned to space without lag and hence has no effect. If it is absorbed, its return is delayed and it becomes effective.

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