Use Advanced Search to search by activities, standards, and more. Visible sunlight makes up about 40 percent of the total energy Earth receives from the sun. The rest of the energy Earth receives from the sun is not visible. About 50 percent is infrared energy, nine percent is ultraviolet UV energy, and one percent is X-rays or microwaves. Electromagnetic radiation is made up of electromagnetic waves that are defined by their wavelength and frequency. Of the entire electromagnetic spectrum, the human eye can view only a small portion of electromagnetic waves in the form of light.
How far does light travel in the ocean?
Light – Introduction to Oceanography
Visible radiation, or light, from the Sun is important to the world's ocean systems for several reasons. It provides the energy necessary for ocean currents and wind-driven waves. Conversion of some of that energy into heat helps form the thin layer of warm water near the ocean's surface that supports the majority of marine life. Most significantly, the transmission of light in sea water is essential to the productivity of the oceans. Visible wavelengths of light are captured by chlorophyll-bearing marine plants, which then make their own food through the process of photosynthesis. The organic molecules created by this process are an important energy source for many small organisms that are the base of the entire marine food chain.
Exploring Our Fluid Earth
The energy reaching Earth from the sun is a form of electromagnetic radiation, which is represented by the electromagnetic spectrum Figure 6. Electromagnetic waves vary in their frequency and wavelength. High frequency waves have very short wavelengths, and are very high energy forms of radiation, such as gamma rays and x-rays.
Sunlight consists of the entire spectrum of electromagnetic radiation, which includes gamma, X, ultraviolet, visible, infrared, micro- and radio waves. The major part of solar radiation is in the form of visible and infrared rays that vary in wavelength. The transparency of water surfaces varies. The percentage of incident light reflected by a surface is called the albedo. The annual albedos of water bodies range from 5 to 7 percent at the Equator to 12 to 13 percent at 60 degrees latitude.