Daily Archives: March 28, 2014

CO2 is a coolant in the Earth’s thermosphere

This is a very interesting paper. Since it is subscription only I suggest reading the discussion here.

Martin G. Mlynczak, Linda A. Hunt, Christopher J. Mertens, B. Thomas Marshall, James M. Russell III, Thomas Woods, R. Earl Thompson and Larry L. Gordley. Influence of solar variability on the infrared radiative cooling of the thermosphere from 2002 to 2014. Geophysical Research Letters. DOI: 10.1002/2014GL059556

Infrared radiative cooling of the thermosphere by carbon dioxide (CO2, 15 µm) and by nitric oxide (NO, 5.3 µm) has been observed for 12 years by the SABER instrument on the TIMED satellite. For the first time we present a record of the two most important thermospheric infrared cooling agents over a complete solar cycle. SABER has documented dramatic variability in the radiative cooling on timescales ranging from days to the 11-year solar cycle. Deep minima in global mean vertical profiles of radiative cooling are observed in 2008–2009. Current solar maximum conditions, evidenced in the rates of radiative cooling, are substantially weaker than prior maximum conditions in 2002–2003. The observed changes in thermospheric cooling correlate well with changes in solar ultraviolet irradiance and geomagnetic activity during the prior maximum conditions. NO and CO2 combine to emit 7 x 1018 more Joules annually at solar maximum than at solar minimum.


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