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Summary of 1 Day
Diurnal Cycle Timeline

Current Operational SST Anomaly Charts for the year 2004
Driven by the Earth's spin on its axis
, the diurnal cycle of night and day is a powerful driver of variability of weather, as we examine in Climate Science. In Climate History we look into how human beings tend to organize their daily activities (including eight hours of sleep) around the diurnal cycle of day and night. In Resources, you will find links to real-time and time-relevant information about your community.

Note that the 24 hour period of a day does not fit neatly into the "powers of 10" exponential approach to years. A day is actually 0.0027 of a year, more than two orders of magnitude less than a year.

Diurnal Cycle Timeline
Image of Earth spinning on axis (NOAA)

Sunlight hits the surface of the Earth

Image of dawn on Earth from space (NASA)

Mid Morning
Temperatures rise most quickly during mid morning
High Noon
Heated air circulates in bottom 1 km of atmosphere
Image of sun in clouds (NOAA)
Temperatures are hottest during the mid afternoon


Sunlight stops hitting Earth's surface.


Image of moonrise (NASA)
Temperatures fall most quickly around sunset as surface and atmosphere radiate heat

Lowest level of atmosphere becomes cooler.

Middle of the Night
Earth, water surfaces and human communities release stored heat.
Image of lights at night from NGDC/NOAA
Right before Dawn
Temperatures are coldest around dawn
Also see: What is Variability? , Overview of Climate Processes and Forecasting Future Weather and Climate for more.
Images from NGDC and NASA
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Last Updated Wednesday, 20-Aug-2008 11:22:39 EDT by
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