The region of the atmosphere studied by the TIMED mission.  Credit: NASA

Earth’s Upper Atmosphere is Cooling

Article Updated: 24 Dec , 2015

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New measurements from a NASA satellite show a dramatic cooling in the upper atmosphere that correlates with the declining activity of the current solar cycle. For the first time, researchers can show a timely link between the Sun and the climate of Earth’s thermosphere, the region above 100 km, an essential step in making accurate predictions of climate change in the high atmosphere. This finding also correlates with a fundamental prediction of climate change theory that says the upper atmosphere will cool in response to increasing carbon dioxide.

Earth’s thermosphere and mesosphere have been the least explored regions of the atmosphere, in fact some have called it the “ignorosphere.” The NASA Thermosphere-Ionosphere-Mesosphere Energetics and Dynamics (TIMED) mission was developed to explore the Earth’s atmosphere above 60 km altitude and was launched in December 2001. One of four instruments on the TIMED mission, the Sounding of the Atmosphere using Broadband Emission Radiometry (SABER) instrument, was specifically designed to measure the energy budget of the mesosphere and lower thermosphere. The SABER dataset now covers eight years of data and has already provided some basic insight into the heat budget of the thermosphere on a variety of timescales.

The extent of current solar minimum conditions has created a unique situation for recent SABER datasets. The end of solar cycle 23 has offered an opportunity to study the radiative cooling in the thermosphere under exceptionally quiescent conditions.

“The Sun is in a very unusual period,” said Marty Mlynczak, SABER associate principal investigator and senior research scientist at NASA Langley. “The Earth’s thermosphere is responding remarkably — up to an order of magnitude decrease in infrared emission/radiative cooling by some molecules.”

The TIMED measurements show a decrease in the amount of ultraviolet radiation emitted by the Sun. In addition, the amount of infrared radiation emitted from the upper atmosphere by nitric oxide molecules has decreased by nearly a factor of 10 since early 2002. These observations imply that the upper atmosphere has cooled substantially since then. The research team expects the atmosphere to heat up again as solar activity starts to pick up in the next year.

While this warming has no implications for climate change in the troposphere, a fundamental prediction of climate change theory is that the upper atmosphere will cool in response to increasing carbon dioxide. Emissions of carbon dioxide may warm the lower atmosphere, but they cool the upper atmosphere, because of the density of the atmospheric layer.

As the atmosphere cools the density will increase, which ultimately may impact satellite operations through increased drag over time.

The SABER dataset is the first global, long-term, and continuous record of the Nitric oxide (NO) and Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the thermosphere.

“We suggest that the dataset of radiative cooling of the thermosphere by NO and CO2 constitutes a first climate data record for the thermosphere,” says Mlynczak.

The TIMED data provide a fundamental climate data record for validation of upper atmosphere climate models which is an essential step in making accurate predictions of climate change in the high atmosphere. SABER provides the first long-term measurements of natural variability in key terms of the upper atmosphere climate. As the TIMED mission continues, these data derived from SABER will become important in assessing long term changes due to the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

The findings were presented at the American Geophysical Union fall meeting in San Francisco.

Source: NASA Langley



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rlamont
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rlamont
December 18, 2009 6:30 AM

If upper atmospheric temperature correlates with solar activity AND it also correlates with CO2 concentrations, then one must conclude that solar activity correlates with CO2 concentrations on earth.

Wolter
Member
Wolter
December 18, 2009 7:17 AM

There is no logic in that statement.

Lawrence B. Crowell
Member
Lawrence B. Crowell
December 18, 2009 8:10 AM

If we are trappiing more heat in lower atmosphere with CO_2 this means the rate heat is escaping into the upper atmosphere is reduced. You put on a winter coat to reduce the rate you lose heat to the cold environment. It is very clear, and very simple.

LC

tareece
Member
tareece
December 18, 2009 8:18 AM

No logic? Are you kidding?

Its the very same principle as radiational cooling…..

The sun is on a down cycle and the EARTH is cooling…do you think that the other parts of the atmosphere are immune to the Suns whims?
Thats absolute arrogance.
Keep on you global cooling/ er global warming/ er climate change dimwits….
I wonder just why all the data hasn’t been released? ohhh, wait…its logical…must be something to hide.

Sili
Member
Sili
December 18, 2009 8:24 AM

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multivariate_analysis

Of all the bad, arrogant ‘arguments’ against Anthropogenic Global Warming, that I’ve encountered, that one has to be one of the worst. On a par with “It’s getting warmer because God is hugging us tighter.”

tareece
Member
tareece
December 18, 2009 8:26 AM
I noticed also that the graphic did not include exactly where the CO2 is “trapped”… but now I know where a sounding rocket goes…. nice correlation to the story…kudos there graphic editor! And how is it I’m supposed to trust people that won’t let others verify their figures? Or trust the same nimrods that have chosen to resort to all sorts of sub-honest methods in order to get their way and to stomp out all opposition to their belicose intelligence and supreme knowledge. And another thing….. with the overwhelming beauty of tele-conferencing, exactly why is there hundreds of delegates going to Copenhagen and giving a Gorilla sized carbon footprint if they were really concerned about the environment? Yeah,… Read more »
Brett
Member
Brett
December 18, 2009 8:41 AM

“why is there hundreds of delegates going to Copenhagen and giving a Gorilla sized carbon footprint if they were really concerned about the environment?”

The answer is that they are not concerned about the environment. They are there out of fear that if they do not get on board with the program, they will be left off the list when the hand-outs come around.

If our “leaders” would lead by example, maybe we, the Great Unwashed, could follow them.

tareece
Member
tareece
December 18, 2009 8:42 AM
And exactly what are these numbers based against? Where are the figures for the upper atmosphere for 2000 years ago? 6000? 10000? If you are trying to convince humanity about climate, the very definition of climate indicates a LONG EXTENDED time…. and 40-100 years dudes is not, in the terms of the Earth..long. Its a blink. a half-blink…but you know that. You have other reasons as well for getting the world to bow down to the cause of CC… Population control being #1. A melding of nations and the end of nationalism#2. A more benevolent world government that does what it can for the masses, yet doesn’t allow one region economic success over another#3…. The Climate hulabaloo is… Read more »
tareece
Member
tareece
December 18, 2009 9:24 AM
Brett said:”If our “leaders” would lead by example, maybe we, the Great Unwashed, could follow them” But you know…we already do…. Plastic bags came into being because they last longer than paper bags (remember, grocery bags? “paper/plastic”?) Plastic bottles would be a great help in kepping production costs and waste down… CFL lamps would be better than Incan lights because they last longer…ooops, er, gotta call the fire dept and do some special hoop jumps to discard them…and they don’t last as long as advertised…hmmmm…. We converted to corn derived gas…. and sent gas prices skyrocketing and then saw that corn didn’t really make a whoop of a difference….. Yeah, we’ve changed habits… recycled more…. drove less…walked more..… Read more »
Duncan Ivry
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Duncan Ivry
December 18, 2009 6:09 PM
rlamont: “If upper atmospheric temperature correlates with solar activity AND it also correlates with CO2 concentrations, then one must conclude that solar activity correlates with CO2 concentrations on earth.” Wolter: “There is no logic in that statement.” The term “correlation” may be misleading. If the original publication speaks of *statistical* correlation, then a statement of the form “if A correlates to B and B correlates to C then A correlates to C” may — I emphasize: may — be true, but could be false as well. Among other things it depends on some parameters of the statistical test used. Scientists (should) use only those correlations in further research, which are statistically “significant”, i.e. the statement “the correlation between… Read more »
Spoodle58
Member
December 19, 2009 5:45 AM

@ tareece
People have limited memories, very true.

By the way south coast of England is going to have a white xmas for the first time in 30 years. Maybe those global cooling dudes back in the 70’s where right wink

I predict that Global Yawning will occur within the next few years, as everyone is soon going to get bored with this rubbish.

star-grazer west coast
Member
star-grazer west coast
December 19, 2009 3:09 PM

@ tareece
@Spoodle58
I generally stay neutral on these climate feeds but said on earlier feeds our Sun generates/controls 98% of our climate, and our Sun wiill most likely have the weakest Solar max in over 60 years. It is ironic that our ‘Bama-O-Rama had to arrive earlier than scheduled in D.C. from the Global Warming conference, the early arrival wasn’t caused by a sandstorm . but guess what, an historic snowstorm and blizzard in the NE US!!!!!!

Spoodle58
Member
December 20, 2009 10:45 AM

I’m here in Ireland freezing my backside off and I now have to pay a global warming tax since December 9th.
Thats what really pisses me off.
Also this tax is also not been used for green projects or helping in anyway our environment, in case anyone was wondering.

@ star-grazer west coast
smile smile smile funny stuff

lomitus
Member
lomitus
December 20, 2009 12:16 PM
Global warming? Global cooling? I honestly do not know what is or what is not coming…that’s for other people smarter than me to figure out. How any of this relates to solar cycles…-if- it relates to it at all…is truly beyond my meager comprehension. However… There is one simple peace of common sense I will offer here; as of now and for the foreseeable future, we only have this one planet on which to live…where exactly is the harm in erring on the side of caution in regards to all of this? What’s the worse that can happen…we all might have cleaner air to breath? How is that a -bad- thing??? Please…if you really think that having clean… Read more »
star-grazer west coast
Member
star-grazer west coast
December 20, 2009 1:16 PM
@ lomitus Nice write-up, what you wrote would work if the ENTIRE Earth had zero population growth, EVERYONE had your economic situation, your housing situation, your transportation situation, your climate and weather situation, your family household situation, your personel situation——hmmmm, what is wrong with this picture!?!?! @ lomitus- most people in the US are trying to save energy costs, but do not have your situation to accomplice it due to many obvious reasons like distance to work -number in household, climate where they live, health,etc. Granted there are energy slobs like people using large SUV to drive 1-2 blocks to the mailbox, however, I found many of these slobs proclaiming themselves environments saying they don’t have the time… Read more »
ND
Member
ND
December 20, 2009 2:06 PM

“Before some people get too hung up on carbon buildup, we better monitor our Sun which drives 98% ”

According to the original topic of this thread, that’s exactly what’s being done. The sun *is* being monitored constantly by dedicated scientists. Ditto for volcanic eruptions. In fact the climatologists have noted the affects of the largest volcanic eruptions on global temperatures (unfortunately I don’t have any references at my fingertips on this).

2ru_press
Member
2ru_press
December 21, 2009 3:36 AM
IPCC Lead Author Admits Deleting Inconvenient Opinions From IPCC Report The latest installment of Jesse Ventura’s highly successful Conspiracy Theory show exposed millions of viewers on national TV last night to the climate change fraud, blowing a giant hole in the global warming scam by exposing how its adherents comprise wealthy industrialists making billions in profits by fearmongering about the environment. Ventura and his team attempted to track down the key architects of the scheme, a search which led them to Beijing China and the heavily guarded residence of global warming pioneer and billionaire Maurice Strong. The show lifts the lid on how the very same alarmists pushing the threat of climate change are profiting in the billions… Read more »
Lawrence B. Crowell
Member
Lawrence B. Crowell
December 21, 2009 6:50 AM

Lord Monckton and Jesse Ventura are not qualified to make the assertions they do. Lord Monckton is a nutcase. Please, this stuff is pure crap. Yet Don Henley put it best at the end of a song “Dirty Laundry” when he wrote “Crap is king.”

LC

tareece
Member
tareece
December 21, 2009 7:07 AM
lomitus Says: December 20th, 2009 at 12:16 pm Global warming? Global cooling? I honestly do not know what is or what is not coming… SNIP If you can do this just one day a week, is doing it 2 or 3 times a week really -that- much harder? If people were to walk more or use bicycles instead of driving cars…even if just occasionally, what’s the worse that could happen…people might actually be in a little better health? @ lomitus Its called Freedom. Why should my freedom be contingent or based on what carbon output China or India has? Do you realize that people (UK PM George Brown) at Copenhagen were saying life is down to 4-7 years… Read more »
Lawrence B. Crowell
Member
Lawrence B. Crowell
December 21, 2009 4:10 PM

@tareece: That might have been blunt, but frankly I am tired of these types of people. Imagine if UT were beset by flat-Earthers or geo-centrists. Patience has its limits, and one can suffer fools only so long.

LC

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