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Geosciences LibreTexts

1.9: Energy

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    • Contributed by Miracosta Oceanography 101
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    Energy exists in several forms such as heat, kinetic energy (mechanical), light, potential energy, electrical, or other forms. All physical and chemical reactions involve either the loss or gain of some form of energy.

    The electromagnetic spectrumElectromagnetic energy from the Sun is the force behind all motion of the atmosphere and the oceans. The Sun's electromagnetic energy comes from nuclear fusion in the Sun's core. The immense pressure in the Sun's core fuses hydrogen atoms into helium atoms, a process that gives off vast amounts of energy and causes the Sun and other stars to glow. Geothermal energy is the driving force for motion within the planet (including plate tectonics, earthquakes, and volcanoes). Both solar electromagnetic energy and geothermal energy are utilized to support life and ecosystems within the marine environment.

    Fig 1-26. The electromagnetic spectrum is the range of wavelengths or frequencies over which electromagnetic radiation extends.

    All natural materials either transmit, reflect, or absorb electromagnetic energy in different ways. Solar energy that is absorbed by the atmosphere, oceans, and land is converted to heat or other energy forms. An equivalent amount of energy is radiated back into space. Some of the energy is used to move the oceans and atmosphere, and support life in the process over time.