Satellite to study Sun’s influence on Earth’s warming climate

November 15th, 2007 - 2:52 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, Nov 15 (ANI): Scientists would be able to make predictions about the next solar cycle peak in 2012 and its influence on the Earth’s warming climate by a NASA satellite known as SORCE (Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment).
Solar cycles, which span an average of 11 years, are driven by the amount and size of sunspots present on the sun’s surface, which modulate brightness from the X-ray to infrared portion of the electromagnetic spectrum.
“Solar activity alters interactions between Earth’s surface and its atmosphere, which drive global circulation patterns,” said Tom Woods, Senior Research Associate of CU.
The current solar cycle peaked in 2002.
Designed by the University of Colorado (CU) at Boulder in 2003, the SORCE provides measurements of incoming x-ray, ultraviolet, visible, near-infrared and total solar radiation.
The measurements provided by the satellite specifically address long-term climate change, natural variability and enhanced climate prediction, and atmospheric ozone and UV-B radiation. These measurements are critical to studies of the Sun; its effect on our Earth system; and its influence on humankind.
With help from the SORCE, researchers at CU’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics have said that as the Sun approaches its next solar cycle, its brightening will have regional climatic impacts on Earth.
“It was very important to the climate change community that SORCE was extended, because it allows us to continue charting the solar irradiance record in a number of wavelengths without interruption,” said Woods. “Even relatively small changes in solar output can significantly affect Earth because of the amplifying affect in how the atmosphere responds to solar changes,” he added.
“With mounting concern over the alteration of Earth’s surface and atmosphere by humans, it is increasingly important to understand natural forcings on the sun-Earth system that impact both climate and space weather, “said Woods. “Such natural forcing includes heat from the sun’s radiation that causes saltwater and freshwater evaporation and drives Earth’s water cycle,” he added.
Increases in UV radiation from the sun also heat up the stratosphere (located from 10 miles to 30 miles above Earth), which can cause significant changes in atmospheric circulation patterns over the planet, affecting Earth’s weather and climate.
“We will never fully understand the human impact on Earth and its atmosphere unless we first establish the natural effects of solar variability,” said Woods.
SORCE also is helping scientists better understand violent space weather episodes triggered by solar flares and coronal mass ejections that affect the upper atmosphere and are more prevalent in solar maximum and declining solar cycle phases. (ANI)

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