Weather Fix Wednesday: Lesson 6

Weather Fix

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Students in Arkansas will be continuing their education online and through AMI Days for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is a hard time for everyone, so the Arkansas Storm Team wants to do something to help! We will be providing a weekly weather education lesson, teaching students about a specific topic and showing how to create a fun science experiment at home.

This week’s lesson is about the effects of sun versus shade and a topic called albedo! Before we get to the experiments, let’s go over some definitions.

Albedo is the proportion of light or radiation that is reflected by a surface.

A higher albedo indicates a surface that reflects more sunlight than absorbs it. A low albedo means a surface absorbs more sunlight than reflects it.

Darker objects absorb more light. Lighter objects reflect more light.

This is noticeable in summertime when black asphalt on roadways turns burning hot to the touch. Meanwhile, even when it’s sunny in snow covered areas, the air temperature ends up being cooler because the sun’s light is being reflected off the snow.

T-Shirt Experiment

Items needed: black shirt, white shirt, temperature gun

Step 1: Place two different colored t-shirts outside in direct sunlight. Let them sit for about 5 minutes.

Step 2: Hold a temperature gun over each shirt to measure the temperature. Compare.

Black shirt reads more than 100 degrees on a sunny day. The white shirt is still warm but not near as hot as the black shirt.

You may have heard an older individual or a parent tell you to wear light colored clothing outside in the summertime. Why would they tell you that? Because of albedo and how different colored clothing results in differing temperatures due to the sunlight it absorbs.

Did you know official temperature readings are not taken in direct sunlight, rather shade?

Direct sunlight and passing clouds can cause temperatures to vary. Shade provides a true representation of the temperature because all variables are controlled.

Sensors are located at airports and are actually placed in boxes to create the shade.

Sun vs. Shade Experiment

Items needed: white surface, black surface, carboard box/house and ice cubes

Step 1: Place the white surface, black surface and carboard box/house outside in direct sunlight. The white and black surface will be exposed in sun while the cardboard box/house creates its own shade.

Step 2: Take even sized ice cubes and place one each on the three different surfaces.

Step 3: Record how long it takes each ice cube to melt.

Weather Fix Wednesday: Lesson 6 will be released on May 20, 2020 at 1 p.m. The topic will be fog formation.

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During the school year, the Arkansas Storm Team is out in the community helping to provide fun weather education. Given our current situation across the world, we are not able to be out physically but we can be there virtually! In a limited series, we will be providing weather lessons right here online every Wednesday at 1 PM! Please share with teachers, family and friends!

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