Energy Transfers in Nature

The types are heat transfer – conduction, convection and radiation are entirely natural process. They drive the weather system on Earth, allowing wind to blow, clouds to form and rain to fall. All of these are essential in regulating the Earth's weather system and allowing temperatures suitable for life to flourish.

The source of almost all energy on the Earth is the Sun. Energy arrives from the Sun in the form of electromagnetic radiation. When the radiation arrives at the Earth, much of it is absorbed and heats the atmosphere. That part of the atmosphere which is heated expands and rises. Air is drawn in to replace it. This movement of air in the Earth's atmosphere is wind.

When radiation hits the surface, it heats the land. Cities tend to be warmer anyway than the surrounding area, and tend to warm more quickly. Land tends to heat more quickly that seas and ocean – warming land involves heating mostly the surface, but heating the ocean means heating it to depth, since the solar radiation penetrates the ocean to hundreds of metres of depth. In addition convection currents within the water mean that a larger volume of water will be heated – convection currents in the oceans also help to distribute oxygen and nutrients widely. Conversely, land tends to cool more quickly than the ocean, since the oceans can store a lot more heat energy. This means that during the morning, the land warms more quickly than the ocean, heating the air above it. The air then rises are draws in air from above the ocean. During the evening, the land cools more quickly than the ocean. Air above the land becomes dense, and falls, displacing the warmer air above the ocean, which is made to rise.

Conduction plays much less of a role in energy transfers in nature. Pure metals are not commonly found in nature, existing instead mostly in badly conducting compounds.