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Variation in the temperature of Earth's atmosphere. Credit: Windows to the Universe, UCAR.

TIMED is on My Side (Yes it is)
Jul 07, 2010

New research confirms that Earth's upper atmosphere is cooling off.

On December 7, 2001, NASA launched the Thermosphere, Ionosphere, Mesosphere, Energetics and Dynamics (TIMED) satellite to study the upper layers of Earth's atmosphere. As part of the Solar Terrestrial Probes Missions, TIMED preceded STEREO (Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory), launched October 25, 2006, and the HINODE (Solar-B) mission, launched September 23, 2006.

Future additions to the fleet of space vehicles analyzing the connection between the Sun and our planet's environment will include the MMS (Magnetosphereic MultiScale) mission, scheduled for launch in 2014, the GEC (Geospace Electrodynamic Connections) mission, and the MagCON (Magnetospheric Constellation) mission. The latter two are currently in the budget assignment and contract phase.

The highest levels of our atmosphere are poorly understood, especially the thermosphere. At an altitude between 60 and 180 kilometers, it is the region where the Sun's energy begins to interact with atmospheric particles. Just how this dynamic relationship proceeds is still under investigation, but according to a recent press release from the the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), the thermosphere has experienced a tenfold decline in temperature since 2002.

TIMED measurements indicate that the amount of ultraviolet radiation emitted by the Sun has significantly decreased since the start of solar minimum. The amount of infrared radiation emitted by nitric oxide molecules has also declined, implying that the upper atmosphere has cooled.

It has long been known that temperatures in the thermosphere are dependent on solar radiation. Extreme ultraviolet light is absorbed by the residual oxygen and becomes electrically charged, with increasing molecular motion. Fast molecular motion is known as heat, so even though a household thermometer would register temperatures below zero in the thermosphere, it is considered hot, sometimes reaching over 1500º Celsius during solar maximum.

Since there are fewer molecules in the thermosphere, the amount of thermal energy per cubic centimeter is lower than it is at the surface—there is not enough contact between molecules to transfer heat.

The Sun's 22 year cycle has now been shown to be linked with Earth's climate. Although solar energy does vary over the course of a sunspot cycle, that variance amounts to less than one-tenth of one percent, so how are the increases and decreases in thunderstorm activity explained?

Earth is an electrically charged body that interacts with ions permeating space. Electricity from space is also injected into the thermosphere from charged particles emitted by the Sun, speeding along massive Birkeland currents through a closed circuit. When solar winds are at a minimum, the electric currents decline in amperage, thereby decreasing the strength of our planet's magnetosphere.

As the magnetosphere declines in strength, it is less able to deflect energetic ions arriving from deep space known as cosmic rays. Cosmic rays are charge carriers, and those ions are able to reach the troposphere. Collisions between charged and neutral particles drag air molecules along with them influencing low level cloud cover. More clouds reflect more radiation from the Sun back to space—clouds are white because they are acting like mirrors to all forms of visible light. More reflection means less solar energy, more cloud cover, and so on.

The correspondence between the Sun's electric field strength, cosmic rays, Earth's magnetosphere, cloud cover, and climate are continuing to be investigated. Electric Universe advocates insist that there should be more funding devoted to understanding the connection between Earth and our primary.

"The knowledge gained since 1896, in radio-activity has favoured the view to which I gave expression in that year, namely, that magnetic disturbances on the earth, and aurora borealis, are due to corpuscular rays emitted by the Sun."

--- Kristian Birkeland "The Norwegian Aurora Polaris Expedition 1902-1903, Volume 1, Part 1"

Stephen Smith



"The Cosmic Thunderbolt"

YouTube video, first glimpses of Episode Two in the "Symbols of an Alien Sky" series.


And don't forget: "The Universe Electric"

Three ebooks in the Universe Electric series are now available. Consistently praised for easily understandable text and exquisite graphics.

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