By Anthony Labarre

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Other changes in albedo are related to the distribution of seasonal snow, as seen in the high reflectivity over Northern Hemisphere continents in winter. The grey cutoff region in the polar zones is related to the arctic night conditions over Antarctica in June and over the boreal zone in December. 8. Latitudinal distribution of solar energy intercepted at the Earth’s surface (longterm annual average) Furthermore, the imbalance of heat is enhanced by the fact that the Earth loses energy at all latitudes through infrared cooling, whereas solar warming is confined to the daylight side of the Earth on a diurnal basis and to the seasonal migration of the zone of maximum energy located between the tropics.

1. The atmosphere The atmosphere is the most rapidly reacting element of the system, because of the high level of dynamics associated with atmospheric motion. 13. A schematic illustration of the climate system. As mentioned in the preceding section, the atmosphere transports a large amount of heat polewards through atmospheric motion and elements such as clouds that allow additional heat to be injected into the atmosphere through condensation processes. The atmosphere reacts to numerous forcings in addition to the exchange of solar and terrestrial radiation mentioned earlier in this chapter.

The range of temporal responses in the cryosphere is even more extreme, from less than a day (in the case of a shallow layer of snow exposed to sunlight, for example) to millennia (in the case of the partial or total melting of polar ice caps, notably). These highly variable time responses between individual elements of the system make a full understanding of the exchange processes, and their modeling, extremely complex. 1. EXTERNAL FORCING OF CLIMATE The climate system is in perpetual evolution as it responds to a range of forcing factors.

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