MadSci Network: Environment & Ecology

Re: Does the color of your clothes affect the tempeture you are?

Date: Fri Dec 1 21:42:23 2000
Posted By: Layne Johnson, Undergraduate
Area of science: Environment & Ecology
ID: 975549069.En

Hello Carly!

The answer to your question is "it depends".

Black isn't really a color. It's the absence of color. Because of this, 
black absorbs all of the light that hits it, and some of that light turns 
to heat. Black fabric that is exposed to sunlight will get hotter than 
white fabric will, because the white fabric is reflecting much of the 
light that hits it.

If you are wearing a black tee shirt under a coat, the black tee shirt 
won't make you any warmer, because it is protected from the sun by your 
coat. If you are wearing a black coat, you probably won't feel any warmer 
either, because there are a few layers of insulation between the black 
outer fabric and your skin. Buf if you are wearing a black tee shirt 
without a coat in the sun, the tee shirt will feel warmer than a white one 
would. But wearing the black tee shirt to bed wouldn't keep you any warmer 
at night than a white one would - unless you're napping in the sun.

Since this project is for a science fair, you could get two thermometers, 
wrap one in white fabric and the other one in black fabric, and put them 
in the sun or under a heat lamp. What do you think will happen after 30 
minutes? Write down the temperatures after 30 minutes and compare your 
theory with the results of your experiment. Can you think of a way to 
prove that the differences in temperature on the two thermometers is due 
to the color of the fabric and not to some other factor?

Good luck Carly, and thanks for the question.

Layne Johnson

Current Queue | Current Queue for Environment & Ecology | Environment & Ecology archives

Try the links in the MadSci Library for more information on Environment & Ecology.

MadSci Home | Information | Search | Random Knowledge Generator | MadSci Archives | Mad Library | MAD Labs | MAD FAQs | Ask a ? | Join Us! | Help Support MadSci

MadSci Network,
© 1995-2000. All rights reserved.