NASA looks to solar eclipse to help understand Earth’s energy system

Posted: July 21, 2017 by oldbrew in Clouds, Energy, research, solar system dynamics

Credit: NASA

The report at explains that “Even though the moon blocking the sun during a solar eclipse and clouds blocking sunlight to Earth’s surface are two different phenomena, both require similar mathematical calculations to accurately understand their effects.”

It was mid-afternoon, but it was dark in an area in Boulder, Colorado on Aug. 3, 1998. A thick cloud appeared overhead and dimmed the land below for more than 30 minutes. Well-calibrated radiometers showed that there were very low levels of light reaching the ground, sufficiently low that researchers decided to simulate this interesting event with computer models.

Now in 2017, inspired by the event in Boulder, NASA scientists will explore the moon’s eclipse of the sun to learn more about Earth’s energy system. On Aug. 21, 2017, scientists are looking to this year’s total solar eclipse passing across America to improve our modelling capabilities of Earth’s energy.

Guoyong Wen, a NASA scientist working for Morgan State University in Baltimore, is leading a team to gather data from the ground and satellites before, during and after the eclipse so they can simulate this year’s eclipse using an advanced computer model, called a 3-D radiative transfer model.

If successful, Wen and his team will help develop new calculations that improve our estimates of the amount of solar energy reaching the ground, and our understanding of one of the key players in regulating Earth’s energy system, clouds.

Earth’s energy system is in a constant dance to maintain a balance between incoming radiation from the sun and outgoing radiation from Earth to space, which scientists call the Earth’s energy budget. The role of clouds, both thick and thin, is important in their effect on energy balance.

Like a giant cloud, the moon during the 2017 total solar eclipse will cast a large shadow across a swath of the United States. Wen and his team already know the dimensions and light-blocking properties of the moon, but will use ground and space instruments to learn how this large shadow affects the amount of sunlight reaching Earth’s surface, especially around the edges of the shadow.

Continued here.
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Related – Dr Roy Spencer: The Great American Eclipse

  1. richard verney says:

    A solar eclipse under a cloud free sky demonstrates the poor heat retention of CO2, and/or the warming properties of DWLWIR.

  2. renewableguy says:

    Models get it right enough to know to act on reducing world ghg’s.

    [Reply] Ned Nikolov disagrees: “The so-called “radiative forcing of CO2” (and other heat-absorbing gases) is a model-based calculation, not a real observation. It is produced by radiative transfer models that do NOT contain convective flux terms in the simultaneous equations. It is this artificial decoupling of radiative transfer from convective heat exchange in climate models that is responsible for the predicted increase of surface temperature with CO2 rise. But this solution (obtained through decoupling of processes in an inherently non-linear system of heat transport) is mathematically and physically wrong.”

  3. cdquarles says:

    Hmm, I recall this kind of a study being done pretty much any time there was a total solar eclipse, from the March 1970 one and pretty much every once since. I wonder, now, what, if anything, happened? Did they do the studies? If so, what happened to the results? Were they published? If so, where? If not, why not?

  4. cdquarles says:

    And, it would be nice if people would stop calling IR light, heat. Light converted to kinetic energy within a defined sample of matter sufficient to increase the geometric mean kinetic energy of the sample is the only way that light can heat a sample, that is, to raise its thermodynamic temperature. It is akin to calling alkaline neutralization by the addition of acid to a buffer solution ‘acidification’. Argh

  5. oldbrew says:

    Then there’s the Allais effect.

    ‘The Allais effect, or gravitational anomaly, is named after the French Nobel laureate (in economics) who described and tried to explain changes to gravity during a solar eclipse, as measured by his paraconical pendulum.’

    ‘Erwin Saxl and Mildred Allen reported strong anomalous changes in the period of a torsion pendulum during the solar eclipse of March 7, 1970 and concluded that “gravitational theory needs to be modified”.
    . . .
    Various other experiments using atomic clocks and gravimeters instead of pendulums also recorded significant anomalous gravitational effects which can neither be caused by a tidal effect or drift of the gravimeters, nor by high frequency noise which have special patterns. These experiment were set up by different teams during solar eclipses in China, 1992, India, 1995, China, 1997.’

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