Specific Heat and Climate

Specific Heat and Climate
Laboratory Investigation
The measure of the ability of a substance to change temperature is called specific heat. The
specific heat of a substance is defined as the amount of energy (energy in the form of heat
and measured in joule/g K) needed to raise one gram of sample by one degree celcius or
Kelvin. Some substances with a low specific heat will change temperature with very little
energy added.
In this lab, you will determine the specific heat of several soil samples as compared to water
relate that specific heat finding to climatic phenomenon.
1. Weigh out approximately 25-50 grams of each soil sample into a beaker. Make sure
that the sample is firmly packed with few air bubbles. Record this mass in your lab
2. Measure out approximately the same volume of water as the mass of your soil sample.
Weigh the sample and record the mass.
3. Place each sample under a heat lamp. Place a thermometer in the center of the
sample. There are ring stands and clamps available if necessary.
4. Turn on the heat lamp. This represents time 0.
5. Record the temperature in oC every minute for approximately 15 minutes.
Data Analysis
Graph the temperature data.
Lab Report
Write and type a lab report for this experiment. Reports must be 3-5 pages long, double
spaced. Include abstract, introduction with hypothesis, materials & methods, results, data
table with graph, discussion and conclusion
Answer the following questions in your discussion.
1. Describe each soil type used in your investigation.
2. Which sample showed the greater change in temperature?
3. Predict the temperature of each sample at 30 minutes, 1 hour, 24 hours.
4. The Earth is heated by the sun. How would land masses heat up compared to water
masses at the same latitude?
5. Using the results of this lab, reason out why the yearly temperature ranges of interior
regions of the US are much larger than coastal areas.
6. If the specific heat of water is 4.18 J/g K, calculate the heat gained by the water.
(q=m T K)
7. Using the amount of heat gained by the water, calculate the specific heat of each soil
8. Relate the specific heat of your sample to a specific biome.
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