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Author Topic: What if the entire planet had cloud cover or shade?  (Read 3897 times)

Offline ConfusedHermit

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1.) Do most plants get enough sunlight when most of the sky is covered in thin clouds, such as on days with some light rain? You can still tell its daytime, but the rays arenít as harsh.

2.) Would life survive it if were always surrounded by that sort of cloud cover/shade?

3.) Would life even be better? I look at a place like the UK and the amount of rain they get. The rain isnít the important thingólook at that cloud shade! Less burning heat from the sun, less forest fires. They still have trees and plants, so I know they have enough sunlight regardless.

Sure, the whole planet would have just a boring grey sky to look at, but Iím curious if it would actually be helpful/harmful. :{o~
« Last Edit: 21/07/2012 14:59:31 by ConfusedHermit »


 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: What if the entire planet had cloud cover or shade?
« Reply #1 on: 21/07/2012 18:02:06 »
All you need to do is come to the Northwest USA from about September to April...
And you would realize that the answer is barely...

Actually, a significant amount of light can penetrate the clouds, although certainly photoelectric cell output suffers greatly.  One thing that the clouds tend to do is to diffuse the incoming light.  So, it still gets through, just not from a point source. 

Many greenhouses use a translucent covering which also tends to diffuse the incoming light.

Anyway, life is much more than just humans, or human food crops.  Enough light would get through with a permanent cloud cover that something would certainly survive.  But, then it also all depends on how much sunlight a planet receives, and how thick the cloud cover is.

Clouds can both insulate during the night, and cool during the day. 

However, a planet such as Venus has too much cloud cover, and too much "insulation" from the clouds.  And, of  course, it is also closer to the sun than Earth.

 

Offline ConfusedHermit

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Re: What if the entire planet had cloud cover or shade?
« Reply #2 on: 21/07/2012 19:48:06 »
So, would it be fair to say that if it was 'the most perfect happy medium amount' of cloud cover (for Earth), there wouldn't be much negative change?

It's fun to think about, because I don't even think nature enjoys record-high temperatures like some places have been getting. Give me a grey-shaded world any day. x_x
 

Offline Don_1

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Re: What if the entire planet had cloud cover or shade?
« Reply #3 on: 21/07/2012 22:27:10 »
So, would it be fair to say that if it was 'the most perfect happy medium amount' of cloud cover (for Earth), there wouldn't be much negative change?


Yes there would be a change, and it would be great and perhaps even catastrophic. From the hot and bone dry Atacama desert to the humid wet rainforest and the cold of antartica. Our planet depends on these differing climates for the great diversity of life. Without that diversity, life as a whole could be threatened.
 

Offline Don_1

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Re: What if the entire planet had cloud cover or shade?
« Reply #4 on: 21/07/2012 22:42:27 »
BTW, welcome to the forum. You don't say where you are, but I think it safe to assume you are not in the UK from this statement:


3.) Would life even be better? I look at a place like the UK and the amount of rain they get. The rain isn’t the important thing—look at that cloud shade! Less burning heat from the sun, less forest fires. They still have trees and plants, so I know they have enough sunlight regardless.


You may not have seen news on our weather here so far this year, but let me tell me you, it has been a little more than just 'grey'.
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: What if the entire planet had cloud cover or shade?
« Reply #5 on: 21/07/2012 23:20:30 »
I wouldn't go so far to say that a cloudy (drizzly) environment would threaten all life on the planet.

It would change life.  Some would thrive, some wouldn't.  We talk about invasive species.  I presume an isolated environment would thrive independent of other environments.  So, perhaps life on North America could exist without Africa. 

I need to get new solar panels installed...  perhaps this summer, if I could only find a place far enough away from the trees.  My previous experience was that my solar power generation was about 1/10th on a cloudy day vs a sunny day.  Undoubtedly plants also feel the different energy amounts.

Some of the most fertile farmlands in the USA are irrigated desert regions. 

But, it all depends on the plant.  Too much sun, or too dry, and some plants die (while others flourish).  Just think of the Arizona Cacti without sunshine, or swamp grass without swamps.

If life has evolved in other places in the universe, undoubtedly each planet is different.  And, perhaps even the evolution of life has changed the planets in different ways.
 

Offline ConfusedHermit

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Re: What if the entire planet had cloud cover or shade?
« Reply #6 on: 21/07/2012 23:26:27 »
Thank you for the welcome and the information! I chose my username because it's true. Good thing sites like this can explain things to me :{D~

I actually just couldn't find the answer on the internet. I'll be around the forums with other questions in different categories. Hopefully when people type in similar questions in their browser, it'll take them to where you guys schooled me!
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: What if the entire planet had cloud cover or shade?
« Reply #7 on: 22/07/2012 00:05:42 »
You may not have seen news on our weather here so far this year, but let me tell me you, it has been a little more than just 'grey'.
You just can't placate those Brits!!!

First it is too much snow.
Now it is too much rain.
What will be next?  Too much sunshine?

BTW, the Chinese were supposed to be experimenting with cloud seeding for the last Olympics.
 

Offline Don_1

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Re: What if the entire planet had cloud cover or shade?
« Reply #8 on: 22/07/2012 09:36:08 »

You just can't placate those Brits!!!

First it is too much snow.
Now it is too much rain.
What will be next?  Too much sunshine?


Oh yes, without a doubt, we Brits just love a good old moan about the weather. What else are we going to do all day? WORK???

Ugh! Filthy swine, wash my mouth out with soap.
 

Offline evan_au

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Re: What if the entire planet had cloud cover or shade?
« Reply #9 on: 24/07/2012 10:48:24 »
There are species of plants that thrive on shaded conditions, like the understory of a rainforest, but get "sunburnt" if exposed to direct sunlight.

Presumably plants like this would thrive in the  open if the world as a whole were continually cloudy.
 

Offline Don_1

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Re: What if the entire planet had cloud cover or shade?
« Reply #10 on: 24/07/2012 12:06:48 »
There are species of plants that thrive on shaded conditions, like the understory of a rainforest, but get "sunburnt" if exposed to direct sunlight.

Presumably plants like this would thrive in the  open if the world as a whole were continually cloudy.

But in the much reduced light of the rainforest floor, if the sun were always shrouded by a thin veil of cloud, they might not survive, especially if the tree canopy were to become more dense to compensate for lower light levels.
 

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Re: What if the entire planet had cloud cover or shade?
« Reply #10 on: 24/07/2012 12:06:48 »

 

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