Teaching Energy Balance using Round Numbers: A Quantitative Approach to the Greenhouse Effect and Global Warming

Brian S. Blais, Bryant University

Document Type Article

Published by The Institute of Physics in Physics Education; Volume 38, Issue 6, November 2003, Pages 519-525.


The idea of energy balance used to explain the greenhouse effect and global warming is often confusing for students, primarily because the standard quantitative analysis uses many constants and units. A "round" unit method is presented, which maintains the quantitative aspects of the standard analysis, but is much more intuitive for students.