Solar Storm Dumps Gigawatts in Earth’s Atmosphere
Well, lucky nobody listens to the predictions from ‘Star Stuffed’ who knocked me publicly for predicting we’re heading for any severe solar activity this Solar max… read on and see what has been continuing to happen for months now. And please don’t listen to misguided, biased programs like that. Read it where it counts..right here!
Solar storms of March 8 to 10 dumped enough energy in Earth’s upper atmosphere to power every residence in New York City for two years, say scientists. “This was the biggest dose of heat we’ve received from a solar storm since 2005,” said Martin Mlynczak of the NASA Langley Research Centre in Virginia, U.S. and associate principal investigator for the SABER instrument onboard NASA’s TIMED satellite. “It was a big event, and shows how solar activity can directly affect our planet.”
SABER monitors infrared emissions from Earth’s upper atmosphere, in particular from carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitric oxide (NO), two substances that play a key role in the energy balance of air hundreds of km above our planet’s surface.
“Carbon dioxide and nitric oxide are natural thermostats,” said James Russell of Hampton University in the U.S. and SABER’s principal investigator. “When the upper atmosphere (or thermosphere) heats up, these molecules try as hard as they can to shed that heat back into space.”
The Surprising Power of the recent March Solar Storm (March 23, 2012)
On 8 March 2012, a coronal mass ejection (CME) propelled in our direction by an X5-class solar flare hit Earth’s magnetic field. (On the Richter scale of solar flares, X-class flares are the most powerful kind.) Energetic particles rained down on the upper atmosphere, depositing their energy where they hit.
The action produced spectacular auroras around the poles and significant upper atmospheric heating all around the globe. “The thermosphere lit up like a Christmas tree,” said Russell. “It began to glow intensely at infrared wavelengths as the thermostat effect kicked in.”
For the three-day period, March 8 through 10, the thermosphere absorbed 26 billion kWh of energy. Infrared radiation from CO2 and NO, the two most efficient coolants in the thermosphere, re-radiated 95% of that total back into space. In human terms, this is a lot of energy. According to the New York City mayor’s office, an average NY household consumes just under 4700 kWh annually.
“Unfortunately, there’s no practical way to harness this kind of energy,” said Mlynczak. “It’s so diffuse and out of reach high above Earth’s surface. Plus, the majority of it has been sent back into space by the action of CO2 and NO.”
During the heating impulse, the thermosphere puffed up like a marshmallow held over a campfire, temporarily increasing the drag on low-orbiting satellites. This is both good and bad. On the one hand, extra drag helps clear space junk out of Earth orbit. On the other hand, it decreases the lifetime of useful satellites by bringing them closer to the day of re-entry.
The storm is over now, but Russell and Mlynczak expect more to come. “We’re just emerging from a deep solar minimum,” said Russell. “The solar cycle is gaining strength with a maximum expected in 2013.” More sunspots flinging more CMEs toward Earth adds up to more opportunities for SABER to study the heating effect of solar storms. “This is a new Source: Cosmos
- Sun Erupts With Two Massive X-Class Solar Flares [VIDEOS] (planetsave.com)
- The incredible close-up of bubbling sunspot group which blas (disclose.tv)
- NASA’s Footage of a Massive X-Class Solar Flare (theatlantic.com)
- Nasa – The Surprising Power of the recent March Solar Storm (1oneday.wordpress.com)