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|solar constant |
The average amount of solar radiation received by the Earth's atmosphere, per unit area, when the Earth is at its mean distance from the Sun. It is equal to 1370 watts per square meter. Solar radiation varies with the Earth's distance from the Sun and with the appearance or decay of sunspots.
the total radiation energy received from the Sun per unit of time per unit of area on a theoretical surface perpendicular to the Sun's rays and at Earth's mean distance from the Sun. It is most accurately measured from satellites where atmospheric effects are absent. The value of the constant is approximately 1.4 kilowatts per square metre. The "constant" is fairly constant, increasing by only 0.2 percent at the peak of each 11-year solar cycle. Sunspots block out the light and reduce the emission by a few tenths of a percent, but bright spots, called plages, that are associated with solar activity are more extensive and longer lived, so their brightness compensates for the darkness of the sunspots. Moreover, as the Sun burns up its hydrogen, the solar constant increases by about 10 percent every billion years.