A NEW SPACE WEATHER METRIC

Re-Blogged From Space Weather

The daily Thermosphere Climate Index (TCI) is now on Spaceweather.com. TCI is a relatively new space weather metric that tells us how the top of Earth’s atmosphere (or “thermosphere“) is responding to solar activity. During Solar Maximum, the top of our atmosphere heats up and expands. Right now the opposite is happening. Solar Minimum conditions are in effect, and this is causing the upper atmosphere to cool off:

TCI was invented by Martin Mlynczak of the Langley Research Center along with other NASA and university colleagues. For the past 17 years they have been using the SABER instrument onboard NASA’s TIMED satellite to monitor the wattage of infrared emissions from the top of the atmosphere. Recently, they realized that those measurements could be used to summarize the state of the thermosphere in a single daily index, the TCI, expressed in watts (W). Moreover, they learned to calculate TCI going back in time all the way to the 1940s, thus placing current conditions in a historical context.

So where do we stand? Right now TCI=4.3×1010 W. That means the top of Earth’s atmosphere is approximately 10 times cooler than it was during the record-setting Solar Max of 1957-58 (TCI=49.4×1010 W). The record low value for TCI, 2.1×1010 W, was set during the Solar Minimum of 2009. It’s still not that cold in the thermosphere, although we’re getting close.

You can monitor daily values of TCI right here on SpaceWeather.com. TCI not only tracks the slow progression of the 11-year solar cycle, but also it can change suddenly in response to solar flares and geomagnetic storms. As these events occur, we’ll be writing about them to raise awareness of the many ways the sun can dump energy into Earth’s atmosphere. Stay tuned!

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ATMOSPHERIC COSMIC RAYS ARE INCREASING

Re-Blogged From Space Weather

[Recent research is indicating that cosmic rays help to form raindrop nuclei, possibly increasing cloud cover, rain, and global cooling. -Bob]

So you thought Solar Minimum was boring? Think again. High-altitude balloon flights conducted by Spaceweather.com and Earth to Sky Calculus show that atmospheric radiation is intensifying from coast to coast over the USA–an ironic result of low solar activity. Take a look at the data:


Above: Dose rates at the Regener-Pfotzer Maximum, ~65,000 ft high at the entrance to the stratosphere.

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WAITING FOR THE NEXT CARRINGTON EVENT

Re-Blogged From http://www.SpaceWeather.com

In Sept. 1859, the sun unleashed a series of solar flares so powerful that telegraph offices caught fire and auroras were seen as far south as Cuba. Known as the Carrington Event, this iconic solar storm is a touchstone for discussions of extreme space weather.

Could it happen again? In a paper published May 10th, researchers from the University of Birmingham use Extreme Value Theory to estimate the average time between “Carrington-like flares.” Their best answer: ~100 years. In other words, we may be overdue for a really big storm. Read the original research here.

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The Worsening Cosmic Ray Situation

Re-Blogged From http://www.SpaceWeather.com

[Cosmic Rays (GCRs) were high and Sunspots were low numerous times throughout history, notably during the ‘Maunder Minimum’, ‘Dalton Minimum’, ‘Sporer Minimum’, etc. Those were decades or longer of especially cold climate, like the Little Ice Age that still was around for George Washington and the troops at Valley Forge. Don’t worry about the radiation unless you fly long distances a couple times a week or plan a trip into outer space. You may want to buy a new ski jacket and long Johns though. -Bob]

Cosmic rays are bad–and they’re getting worse. That’s the conclusion of a new paper just published in the research journal Space Weather. The authors, led by Prof. Nathan Schwadron of the University of New Hampshire, show that radiation from deep space is dangerous and intensifying faster than previously predicted.

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Eclipse, Global Cooling, Cosmic Rays, etc.

By Dr Tony Phillips – Re-Blogged From http://www.spaceweather.com/

LUNAR ECLIPSE DETECTS GLOBAL COOLING (BUT ONLY A LITTLE): On Sept. 27th, millions of people around the world watched the Moon pass through the shadow of our planet. Most agreed that the lunar eclipse was darker than usual. Little did they know, they were witnessing a sign of global cooling. But only a little.


Above: “The eclipse was truly dark,” says photographer Giuseppe Petricca of Pisa, Italy

Atmospheric scientist Richard Keen of the University of Colorado explains: “Lunar eclipses tell us a lot about the transparency of Earth’s atmosphere. When the stratosphere is clogged with volcanic ash and other aerosols, lunar eclipses tend to be dark red. On the other hand, when the stratosphere is relatively clear, lunar eclipses are bright orange.”

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