Heat that causes a change in temperature in an object is called sensible heat.

When an object is heated, its temperature rises until it enters into a phase change state. The increase in heat is called sensible heat. Similarly, when heat is removed from an object, its temperature falls. The heat removed is also called sensible heat. The term is used in opposition to latent heat, which is energy that can be released by a phase change, such as the condensation of water vapor.

In the climate system, both sensible and latent heat are important mechanisms for transporting energy. Large-scale transport of heat from the tropics to the poles is affected by sensible heat in the form of warm air moving toward the poles, and by latent heat as cold air moving toward the equator.

Units and Measures

The amount of sensible heat is the product of the material’s mass, specific heat capacity and its temperature above a reference temperature. The quantity of heat added or removed can be measured by a change of temperature of a fluid substance in a calorimeter.

Following are the units for measuring latent heat:

  • SI Units: Kilo Joule per Kilogram (kJ/kg)
  • Imperial Units: British thermal unit per Pound (Btu/lb)

Useful References

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