Winter is undeniably here. Sure we have had snow for what, going on two weeks now I guess? But that really does not mean much here. I have seen snow –that is, experienced snow falling from the sky and sticking to the ground- every month except July here in Alaska. However when the thermometer dips below 0 degrees Fahrenheit, I call winter. Sub-zero temps for the past three mornings and it took until around noon to finally climb above the mark today. And this of course makes me think about insulation…and insolation. Yes I finally (somewhat begrudgingly perhaps) dug out the sweaters, put the down comforter on the bed, and sealed up the attractive but not particularly energy efficient bay window in the bedroom; but that is not what I meant. Well, partly I suppose.
Probably best to start with the latter (insolation) as it has such a profound influence on the former (insulation). So, let us for the moment accept that the earth is in fact a large, slightly less than perfect, rocky orb hurtling through the vast reaches of space and not –rather- a flat, circular surface balanced on the back of an infinite stack of turtles. Given that, we might as well also accept that said rocky orb, does in point of fact, hurtle in a particularly elliptical trajectory around a specific flaming ball of gas…as opposed to the opposite scenario; the latter of course being a beautiful example or our fabulous ability as a species to be self-centered. Now, bear with me here one more stretch. In addition to hurtling repeatedly ‘round the flaming ball of gas, the orb does indeed also spin (and wobble, but let’s keep things simple shall we?) on an axis that is not perfectly aligned with that of the great fireball. Got it? OK, good.
So, here we are, precariously perched atop the surface of said spinning, hurtling, rocky orb, paying –for various reasons- particular attention to the great fireball that would seem to never tire of playing hide and go seek. When the fireball is visible it gives light, and generally heat…which is measured in terms of the amount of solar radiation, or…wait for it…Insolation!
Towards the midriff section of the orb…shall we call it “Earth” for simplicity’s sake (it come to me in a vision, remember…?) there is a more or less balanced equation in regards to the relationship one might have with said phenomenon. Yet as one travels closer towards the spinning axis points (“the poles”) of the “Earth” the pattern and equation are different. OK. What does it all mean you ask? Beats the hell out of me. Turtles I tell you…all the way down.
No really, what I am getting at is that closer to “the poles” the surface area is exposed to the incoming insolation on a constantly changing, but still balanced, schedule. At the midriff, or “Equator” it is roughly equal amounts of positive versus negative insolation. Boooringgg! Actually it is at “the poles” as well, but on a completely different scale. If we accept that 1 “Earth” day (the amount of time it takes to spin once)= 24 hours the “Equator” gets half on, half off; twelve and twelve; light and dark; day and night. You dig? Same thing at “the poles” but different. If we accept that one “Earth” year (the amount of time it takes to hurtle ‘round the fireball)= 12 months “the poles” also get half on and half off, but this time in months. I will let that sink in for a moment.
So, here we are in Fairbanks, far from the midriff. As we hurtle along our balance fluctuates; lots of insolation in the summer, not so much in the winter. Which brings us back to heart of the matter…reversed as it were. There is then, an inverse relationship between the amount of insolation and insulation. More fireball=less sweaters. I suppose I could have just said that and left out the awkward attempt at astrophysics. Sort of catchy actually…More fireball=Less sweaters. Hmmm.
Wait, where was this going?