Land and Water Affect Temperature
The atmosphere of the Earth is primarily heated by radiation coming off of the Earth. 50% of the Sun’s energy is absorbed by the Earth and then released back into the atmosphere. Thus, the temperature of the air in a given location can be greatly affected by the materials found on the surface.
Some materials absorb more energy, while other materials reflect more energy. Organic materials such as plants and animals tend to absorb more energy than do barren deserts. Thus, the air temperature in a forest is usually cooler than the temperature in a desert. Likewise, the blacktop, rooftops and buildings of a city act like a desert, raising the temperature of an area by as much as 10 degrees.
Water absorbs vast amounts of energy from the Sun. Likewise, bodies of water release energy very slowly. For this reason, areas near water are usually more mild.
Because of water’s ability to absorb heat, store it and release it later, the oceans of the Earth have an important role in helping to moderate the Earth’s temperature.