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Planck’s Law and Earth's Climate


A video lecture titled, ‘Planck’s distribution and Inverse square law’ from the e-learning course, ‘Introduction to Atmospheric Science’ developed by C Balaji, IIT Madras, for National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL), India. These video lecture gives a detailed explanation about Planck’s Law for black body distribution. It also includes discussions on Wien’s displacement law, radiative loss, Simpson’s rule, Trapezoidal rule, Gauss quads, the Stefan-Boltzmann Law, and Newton Raphson method.

Students will learn about Planck’s law and how to calculate Earth’s temperature. They will also be introduced to photosphere, flux density, planetary albedo, reflectivity, absorptivity, transmissivity, emissivity for land, and emissivity of ocean which are used to calculate Earth’s temperature and determine its climate.

A transcript of the lecture is also provided.

Use this tool to help your students find answers to:

  1. Define the following:
    1. Black body radiation
    2. Albedo Effect
    3. Adsorption
    4. Transmissivity
    5. Emissivity of land
  1. How is Earth’s temperature calculate given the following scenario:
    1. Earth as a black body
    2. Earth with oceans, snow covered land and a simple layer of non-interactive air
About Tool
Tool Name Lecture – 32: Planck’s distribution and Inverse square law
Discipline Physics, Earth Sciences
Topic(s) in Discipline Climate Physics, Atmospheric Sciences, Atmospheric Physics, Planck’s Law, Black Body Radiation, Earth Climate System, Albedo Effect, Stefan-Boltzmann Law, Atmosphere
Climate Topic Planetary Energy Balance, Climate and the Atmosphere
Type of tool Video ( 47 mins)
Grade Level Undergraduate, Graduate 
Location Global
Language English
Translation      –
Developed by C Balaji, IIT Madras 
Hosted at NPTEL
Access Online
Computer Skills Basic


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