Collapsing Thermosphere Is A Driving Event

Solar Thermosphere Relationship

Solar Thermosphere Relationship

Original Image

MHO, the sun has caused the collapse of the Thermosphere described in this article. That is a major driving event to our present cold phase (and the very strong AO that’s pushing all that cold air out into the UK and Europe).

I suspect, but have not yet found confirmation, that this is a “continuum event” and has impacts in the Mesophere as well, and that it is our largely lacking understanding of these things that causes CO2 to be meaningless.

NASA-funded researchers are monitoring a big event in our planet’s atmosphere. High above Earth’s surface where the atmosphere meets space, a rarefied layer of gas called “the thermosphere” recently collapsed and now is rebounding again.

“This is the biggest contraction of the thermosphere in at least 43 years,” says John Emmert of the Naval Research Lab, lead author of a paper announcing the finding in the June 19th issue of the Geophysical Research Letters (GRL). “It’s a Space Age record.”

The collapse happened during the deep solar minimum of 2008-2009—a fact which comes as little surprise to researchers. The thermosphere always cools and contracts when solar activity is low. In this case, however, the magnitude of the collapse was two to three times greater than low solar activity could explain.

“Something is going on that we do not understand,” says Emmert.

Well, at least they are recognizing that we really don’t know what all is going on in the air. Now if they can just connect the dots to that large variable star and the very large swings in the particular spectrum it emmits … and that maybe we don’t know all the subtile things that it does in the different air layers…

The thermosphere ranges in altitude from 90 km to 600+ km. It is a realm of meteors, auroras and satellites, which skim through the thermosphere as they circle Earth. It is also where solar radiation makes first contact with our planet. The thermosphere intercepts extreme ultraviolet (EUV) photons from the sun before they can reach the ground. When solar activity is high, solar EUV warms the thermosphere, causing it to puff up like a marshmallow held over a camp fire. (This heating can raise temperatures as high as 1400 K—hence the name thermosphere.) When solar activity is low, the opposite happens.

I do note that this article feels compelled to drag in CO2 as an agent, but does admit it would be a minor one and mostly we just don’t know what the heck is going on. Oh, and in this case CO2 is magically cooling instead of warming things…

One possible explanation is carbon dioxide (CO2).

When carbon dioxide gets into the thermosphere, it acts as a coolant, shedding heat via infrared radiation. It is widely-known that CO2 levels have been increasing in Earth’s atmosphere. Extra CO2 in the thermosphere could have magnified the cooling action of solar minimum.

Yet somehow it did not act as a ‘coolant’ during the rest of the solar cycle? CO2, the magical gas….

“But the numbers don’t quite add up,” says Emmert. “Even when we take CO2 into account using our best understanding of how it operates as a coolant, we cannot fully explain the thermosphere’s collapse.”

Well, at least he’s got clue…

According to Emmert and colleagues, low solar EUV accounts for about 30% of the collapse. Extra CO2 accounts for at least another 10%. That leaves as much as 60% unaccounted for.

In their GRL paper, the authors acknowledge that the situation is complicated. There’s more to it than just solar EUV and terrestrial CO2. For instance, trends in global climate could alter the composition of the thermosphere, changing its thermal properties and the way it responds to external stimuli. The overall sensitivity of the thermosphere to solar radiation could actually be increasing.

“The density anomalies,” they wrote, “may signify that an as-yet-unidentified climatological tipping point involving energy balance and chemistry feedbacks has been reached.”

Or not.

IMHO, one of the best moments in this article. The recognize that they are just making stuff up and it may have some explanatory value… or not. Bravo!

Important clues may be found in the way the thermosphere rebounds. Solar minimum is now coming to an end, EUV radiation is on the rise, and the thermosphere is puffing up again. Exactly how the recovery proceeds could unravel the contributions of solar vs. terrestrial sources.

“We will continue to monitor the situation,” says Emmert.

For more information see Emmert, J. T., J. L. Lean, and J. M. Picone (2010), Record-low thermospheric density during the 2008 solar minimum, Geophys. Res. Lett., 37, L12102.

So it looks to me like we really don’t know how the sun drives the atmosphere.

And they are really just hoping that this Major Minima is coming to an end. It isn’t. It’s just hitting a tiny speed bump on the way to “It’s dead Jim”…


Vukcevic thinks he has ‘found clue’ about this. “The magentosphere is involved” would be my interpretation:

Weakening Magnetic Field Contributes

Weakening Magnetic Field Contributes

Original Image from

Subscribe to feed


About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
This entry was posted in AGW Science and Background and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Collapsing Thermosphere Is A Driving Event

  1. Ask M.Vukcevic, it seems power from the grid is going down….
    It looks as the Sun is at the ER:

  2. The question about what is it the cause of the Earth’s “Thermosphere” (a.k.a. Earth’s “corona”) would also clarify how the energy is transformed on the Earth, but that……

  3. Pascvaks says:

    Alas Fat Albert was right, the science is settled; shattered in a zillion pieces and strewn all over the place; and waiting for some clever people to come and pick them up put them all back together. Prophets in our day! Who knew? Indeed, who could have imagined? Someone dust off another Nobel whatnot for these folks, they’re just too “too” for words.

  4. Just buy more popcorn and enjoy it!

  5. vukcevic says:

    Hi everyone,
    I looked into this while ago in relation to the strength of the ionosphere, I am bit sceptical about NASA’s conclusions.
    I think there is a strait forward explanation as outlined here:
    Since Antarctica is magnetically weaker it would have the time scale’s governing role for retaining charged particles in circulation and consequently the strength of the ionosphere.

  6. @vukcevic

    1957 was designated the “Geophysical Year”. I remember that during that year, two Nike-Hercules rockets were launched then by NASA from Chilca, 60 km. south of Lima, to study the “change of the equatorial jet” and it was established a big antennas array to study it . NASA must have the data of such a “change” then.

  7. vukcevic says:

    NASA is repository of good, useful and essential data. Where the problem lies is in their PR department issuing announcement aimed at their financial and political masters.
    Impending doom, need more money!

  8. E.M.Smith says:

    @Vukcevic: I’ve added your graph above ( folks, there’s more at the other end of the link).

    Interesting thesis. Has implications for ‘magnetic pole shift’ causing severe weather events too…

    Maybe magnetic pole changes are not so benign after all…

  9. Tim Clark says:

    What possible effect could surface climate have up there?
    Warming from the bottom up?

  10. kuhnkat says:

    Wouldn’t this tie in to the drop in UV reported by NASA recently??

    They weren’t expecting this although some still think it is an instrument problem.

  11. E.M.Smith says:

    @kuhnkat: Exactly.

    @Tim Clark: Not sure what you mean. If about the magnetic effect, the idea is that changes in pole magnetude change particle residency times that changes thermosphere heating that then impacts the rest of the air, then on to weather.

  12. Pascvaks says:

    O/T – “Recent Posts” giving ‘https’ this morning for links to recent posts instead of ‘http’, manually changing so as not to set off a window closing here on my computer (which generally happens if I try to link via an ‘https’ link).

  13. @vukcevic

    Tell them yours is the REAL DOOM ! :-)

  14. @vukcevic

    BTW I was just kidding. Fortunately for us, we all know it, changes¨”tempo” compared with our lives length is too long…though if you are at the wrong place at the wrong time…..Voilá!

  15. So it looks to me like we really don’t know how the sun drives the atmosphere.
    It seems from the above, and from all M.Vukcevic has shown us that the drive is indeed electromagnetic, and if it follows his extrapolation of Solar Polar fields, it could be possible to extrapolate, also, its correspondent effects on the Earth’s field, as there is a big difference between both hemispheres it would be more than interesting to know the future changes.

  16. E.M.Smith says:

    @Pascvaks: I’ve made a small change that ought not to do anything (changed MY personal profile from “use https for adminstration pages” to blank). Let me know if that changes anything for you. It’s always possible WPress has a bug and they are more widely applying that ‘flag’ than is warranted. For now I’m just doing https manually if I’m on an admin page.


    It does look like there is a ‘coming together’ of the electrical with the UV with charged particles. From the Svensmark GCR / particle impacts, to the UV heating impacts, to the Mag field fluctuation impacts. Put all those together as “missing bits’ in the “standard model” and suddenly CO2 is just along for the ride while all the rest of the stuff starts to make sense.

    Not quite an “electric universe model” but more of an “electrically enhanced solar model”.

  17. @E.M.Smith
    It does look like there is a ‘coming together’ of the electrical with the UV with charged particles.
    Of course it does: During summer time in the southern hemisphere UV radiation turns O2 to Ozone (O3). During winter protons reduce that O3 to water (H2O). All these changes, as any changes in the universe are electrical or, more generally speaking, the interaction of charges.

  18. BTW, this is why the photoelectric effect: UV on a zinc plate, produces electricity: All that energy contained in a previous “smaller” wavelength (as M.Planck equation) it appears to us, after, as electricity.

    Read the following (it is a “jewel”):

    Click to access tesla_patent.pdf

  19. E.M.Smith says:


    I’ve combined 2 of your 3 comments into one.

    Looks like that Tesla patent is basically for a radio of sorts combined with a charged particle detector.

    It might be interesting to set up a metal plate with a tantalum capacitor of modern design and see how much charge accumulates. IIRC it’s a couple of hundred volts over a couple of meters. But the amperage is so low as to be practially useless.

    Still, if you spread that over the whole planet, it could be a significant contributor to atmospherics.

  20. It shows the principle behind.

  21. kuhnkat says:

    E.M. Smith,

    UV is absorbed by oxygen and other atmospheric components so heats up the strat and upper sections. Think less ozone also. If the UV drops there would be a cooling of the upper atmosphere shrinking it.

    They claim total TSI stayed about the same but drops in UV especially in the bands that are absorbed the most.

    Double whammy as particles and magnetic field are also lower so less total energy and stirring of the atmosphere.

  22. kuhnkat says:

    OOps reading too fast, I read your response to Tim Clark as to me.

  23. Pascvaks says:

    O/T – “Recent Posts” links look good, no “https”

  24. E.M.Smith says:


    Then it looks like WordPress may have a bug where setting the indivicual option of “always use HTTPS in adminstrative pages for me” has ‘spill over’ into other folks getting https in non-administrative pages.

    No big, I can just leave it ‘un checked’. I manually added the “s” for quite a while as it was and my login bookmarks already use it.

    Thanks, and let me know if other “odd things” start to happen some time.

Comments are closed.