Earthguide Online Classroom

Surface temperature.

SSEC Global Montage Movie showing surface temperatures and cloud cover for the last two weeks. Images are composites that combine sea surface temperature (SST), land temperature, and cloud cover datasets. Source: Space Science and Engineering Center (SSEC), University of Wisconsin-Madison

Questions for discussion

  1. What is the daily temperature variation across the surface of the Earth?

    • At the land surface?

    • At the sea surface?

    • Where does temperature vary the most over the course of a day - at the surface of the sea, or at the land surface? Why?

Related resources

Take away concepts

  • That even when the same quantity of sunlight falls on land and sea, that the temperature response of land is grether than that of the sea.
  • That land responds to the appearance and disappratance of sunlight much faster than the sea.
  • That cooling and heating rates are dependent on the specific heat capacity of materials./li>
  • That the heat capacity of water is high.
  • That the overall temperature of the Earth's surface is difficult to quantify and compare because of local and regional variability.

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