The Chill of Solar Minimum

Posted: September 28, 2018 by oldbrew in atmosphere, research, solar system dynamics, Temperature

Credit: NOAA

Researchers have found that the last time the thermosphere was rated ‘hot’ was around 2003 (see chart below). Now with a deep solar minimum upon us, the obvious question is: what effect might this have on our planet as a whole?

Sept. 27, 2018: The sun is entering one of the deepest Solar Minima of the Space Age, says Dr. Tony Phillips at Space Weather.

Sunspots have been absent for most of 2018, and the sun’s ultraviolet output has sharply dropped. New research shows that Earth’s upper atmosphere is responding.

“We see a cooling trend,” says Martin Mlynczak of NASA’s Langley Research Center. “High above Earth’s surface, near the edge of space, our atmosphere is losing heat energy. If current trends continue, it could soon set a Space Age record for cold.”

These results come from the SABER instrument onboard NASA’s TIMED satellite.

SABER monitors infrared emissions from carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitric oxide (NO), two substances that play a key role in the energy balance of air 100 to 300 kilometers above our planet’s surface. By measuring the infrared glow of these molecules, SABER can assess the thermal state of gas at the very top of the atmosphere–a layer researchers call “the thermosphere.”

“The thermosphere always cools off during Solar Minimum. It’s one of the most important ways the solar cycle affects our planet,” explains Mlynczak, who is the associate principal investigator for SABER.

When the thermosphere cools, it shrinks, literally decreasing the radius of Earth’s atmosphere.

Continued here.
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Above: An historical record of the Thermosphere Climate Index. Mlynczak and colleagues recently published a paper on the TCI showing that the state of the thermosphere can be discussed using a set of five plain language terms: Cold, Cool, Neutral, Warm, and Hot.

  1. tom0mason says:

    “When the thermosphere cools, it shrinks, literally decreasing the radius of Earth’s atmosphere.”

    Could this be used to validate Nikolov & Zeller ?

  2. Richard111 says:

    “”Sunspots have been absent for most of 2018, and the sun’s ultraviolet output has sharply dropped.””

    Yep. And it’s the UV that warms the sea down to nearly 100 meters.

  3. oldbrew says:

    Could this be used to validate Nikolov & Zeller ?

    Might be one for them to consider, if they haven’t already.

  4. Stephen Richards says:

    Richard111 says:
    September 28, 2018 at 6:58 pm

    I doubt that. High energy photons are absorped within mm. It’s why submarines use long wave, low energy to communicate

  5. oldbrew says:

    Essay: Solar cycle wave frequency linked to jet stream changes
    Guest Blogger / 21 hours ago September 28, 2018

    NASA says, as we enter the solar minimum, our wispy atmosphere shrinks.
    . . .
    When the atmosphere contracts, the jets start to meander. The meandering happens because there is a space problem; the same jet stream is jammed into less volume within a shrunken atmosphere; hence the jet streams kink. The cloud levels are slightly but measurably lower as well.
    – – –
    Earth’s Shrinking Atmosphere Baffles Scientists : Discovery News
    BY DNEWS PUBLISHED ON 02/11/2013

    Earth’s thermosphere went through its biggest contraction in 43 years.

    Researchers expected to see a contraction due to a solar minimum, but not this significant.

    They try to drag CO2 in to it, but admit:
    But the researchers found low levels of EUV radiation only account for about 30 percent of the collapse, while the increase in CO2 levels account for another 10 percent at most.

    That still leaves some 60 percent, which can’t be explained by current modelling.

    Furthermore the current anomaly appears to have commenced in 2005, well before the current solar minimum began.

    So ’10 per cent at most’ is down to CO2? Clutching at straws there :/
    – – –
    The sky is not falling, but it is shrinking
    MATT FORD – 7/21/2010

    Scientists have discovered yet another enigma about our planet: the thermosphere has undergone serious shrinkage. The thermosphere is the largest portion of the Earth’s atmosphere and is the next-to-last region before you reach the vacuum of outer space. The fact that it has contracted is not surprising; the thermosphere absorbs extreme ultraviolet (EUV) photons from the sun and warms and cools—expanding and contracting—in a pattern that follows the 11-year solar cycle. While we are coming out of one of the longer periods of low solar activity in a century, scientists have found that the thermosphere has shrunk some 28 percent. That’s the largest drop in recorded history, and they cannot explain why. [bold added]

    they cannot explain why … did they just answer their own question?

  6. Shaun says:

    Don’t tell Willis. The sun can’t have any effect because blah blah blah.

  7. oldbrew says:

    BBC: World War II bombs ‘felt in space’

    “We know the ionosphere is controlled by solar activity but it varies much more than can currently be explained.”
    – – –
    Study: GPS and in situ Swarm observations of the equatorial plasma density irregularities in the topside ionosphere

    Among the seasons with good data coverage, the maximal occurrence rates for the post-sunset equatorial irregularities reached 35–50 % for the September 2014 and March 2015 equinoxes and only 10–15 % for the June 2015 solstice.

    Auroras also reach max at/near the equinoxes.
    – – –
    The collapse of the midnight ionosphere and behavior of meridional neutral winds at Townsville over a full solar cycle
    First published: 15 October 2015

    This paper investigates the causes of the sudden descent (midnight collapse) of the ionosphere at Townsville, Australia, during the equinox periods of years between 1970 and 1980. The collapse of hmF2 at midnight is found to occur on 89% of the 330 equinox nights that are investigated, and the mean magnitude of the midnight collapse is 84 km in the March equinox periods and 99 km in the September equinox periods.