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10. Intensity of Solar Radiation




The Briny Deep

1. Introduction
2.  Salt in Seawater?
3. Ions of Salt
4. Source of the Salt?
5. Salinity Variability
6.Salinity & Precipitation
7. Salinity Summary
8. Calculating Salinity
9. Ocean Temperature
10. Solar Radiation
11. Properties
12. Light Penetration
13. Temperature
14. Thermocline
15. Density
16. Layering

The map below shows the global distribution of the intensity of solar radiation.

Note that the scale of radiation intensity in watts per square meter (w/m2 or wm-2) is shown at the bottom of image with reddish to orange colors indicating high values of solar radiation and green colors indicating low values.

Used with Permission of Matthias Tomczak ©Copyright 1997

Where is the sun's radiation most intense along the surface of the earth? Where would you expect to find the highest temperature waters in the ocean? Do you know the source of heat in the ocean? Complete the diagram in your handout

  • The equatorial or tropical regions experience the highest levels of solar radiation, primarily due to the distribution of solar energy on a spherical earth.
  • Because of the earth's surface curvature, incoming solar radiation is spread over increasingly larger surface areas (kilometer2) as one proceeds from the equator towards the pole, thereby creating a gradient of decreasing air temperature, and therefore decreasing ocean temperature, from the equator to the pole.


©Copyright 1999
March 13, 1999

Send to Don Reed

Department of Geology
San Jose State University


Let's examine the range of temperature in the world's oceans