Science 35

When sunlight (solar radiation) reaches the ground, some of its energy is absorbed by Earth’s surface. Some of the radiation may be deflected and blocked by clouds, or even reflected back by Earth’s surface.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the Earth is actually closest to the sun during the winter. However, due to the tilt of Earth’s axis, the solar radiation hits the Earth’s surface at a significant angle, and the majority is reflected or lost.

During the summer months, the the Northern Hemisphere of Earth is further from the sun, but the rays hit the Earth’s surface more directly, and can therefore be better absorbed.

At varying latitudes, the sun’s rays will strike Earth’s surface at different angles. Figure 1 shows the amount of energy lost and gained at different latitudes.