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How does solar radiation affect weather?
Jared Peterson, Grade 8
Gig Harbor, Washington, USA
Acted on by the combined effects of the earth's motions and energy from the sun, our planet's formless and invisible envelope of air reacts by producing an infinite variety of weather.
Solar radiation hitting the earth, a sphere which is tilted on its axis, puts into effect differential heating of the earth's surface. This affects weather and climate all across the globe. For example, the tropics along the equator get a lot more heat than at the poles. The air at the equator is heated. This air becomes less dense and rises. This rising air creates low pressure at the equator. The rising air cools and as it cools water vapor condenses with increasing altitude. This creates the high rainfall that we get at the Intertropical Convergence Zone in the tropics. This is just one example of how solar radiation affects weather in one specific area of the earth.
Solar radiation also is what drives atmospheric circulation or the winds across the globe. We all know that heat rises, right? Well, the excess heat in the tropics rises. Then this rising air is circulated around the globe due to the Coriolus force, or the force of the rotation of the earth.
The earth then gets major wind belts along it's surface which in turn affect weather all over the world.
We hope this is helpful. You can read more about weather at education.arm.gov...
The air at the equator is heated. This air becomes less dense and rises. This rising air creates low pressure at the equator. The rising air cools and as it cools water vapor condenses with increasing altitude. This creates the high rainfall that we get at the Intertropical Convergence Zone in the tropics.
Solar radiation also is what drives atmospheric circulation or the winds across the globe. We all know that heat rises, right? Well, the excess heat in the tropics rises. Then this rising air is circulated around the globe due to the Coriolus force, or the force of the rotation of the earth. The earth then gets major wind belts along it's surface which in turn affect weather all over the world.
Clouds are made of tiny water droplets or ice crystals that have condensed onto tiny pieces of sea salt, dust, smoke, or other particles in the air. Clouds have two major effects on weather and climate. Clouds reflect sunlight, which can keep surface temperatures cool. However, they also trap heat close to the Earth's surface, which keeps temperatures warmer. Which one of these processes wins out depends on how thick the clouds are, and a number of other factors, including cloud type and thickness, the magnitude of the solar radiation, and the albedo of the underlying surface.
The NOAA Space Weather Scales were introduced as a way to communicate to the general public the current and future space weather conditions and their possible effects on people and systems. Many of the SWPC products describe the space environment, but few have described the effects that can be experienced as the result of environmental disturbances. These scales will be useful to users of our products and those who are interested in space weather effects. The scales describe the environmental disturbances for three event types: geomagnetic storms, solar radiation storms, and radio blackouts. The scales have numbered levels, analogous to hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes that convey severity. They list possible effects at each level. They also show how often such events happen, and give a measure of the intensity of the physical causes.
LONDON, Oct. 10 (UPI) -- Recent nasty winters in the United States and northern Europe may be partly caused by changes in ultraviolet radiation from the sun, researchers say.
Our Planet's Magnetic Field
The magnetosphere is a bubble of magnetism that surrounds the Earth and protects us from solar wind. Fortunately, our planet's magnetic field diverts most particles into a circular path around the Earth. Like weather patterns found on Earth, solar wind patterns can change rapidly.
Luckily, our planet's magnetosphere quickly responds to the threat and absorbs the impact, wiggling and jiggling in the process. Geophysicists call this reaction a geomagnetic storm, but because of how it disrupts the Earth's magnetic field it could also be called electromagnetic pollution. This is when we see the Aurora Borealis in our night skies.
But strange things are happening in both outer and inner space. The Earth's magnetic field has been weakening. This decrease actually began 2,000 years ago, but the rate of decrease suddenly became much more rapid 500 years ago. However, in the last 20 years or so, the magnetic field has become erratic....
Now, NASA's five THEMIS spacecraft have discovered a breach in the Earth's magnetic field that is 10 times larger than anything previously thought to exist. When this happens, solar wind can flow in through the opening to "load up" the magnetosphere for powerful geomagnetic storms. Exploring the mystery is a key goal of the THEMIS mission, launched in February 2007.
"At first I didn't believe it," said THEMIS project scientist David Sibeck of the Goddard Space Flight Center. "This finding fundamentally alters our understanding of the solar wind–magnetosphere interaction."
Earth's Magnetic Field Changes Climate
The Earth's climate has been significantly affected by the planet's magnetic field, according to a Danish study published in January 2009 which could challenge the notion that human emissions are responsible for global warming.
"Our results show a strong correlation between the strength of the Earth's magnetic field and the amount of precipitation in the tropics," one of the two Danish geophysicists behind the study, Mads Faurschou Knudsen of the geology department at Aarhus University in Denmark, told Videnskab journal.
The results of the study (also published in the US scientific journal Geology) lend support to a controversial theory published a decade ago by Danish astrophysicist Henrik Svensmark, who claimed that the climate is highly influenced by galactic cosmic ray (GCR) particles penetrating the Earth's atmosphere.
Cosmic Rays Slam the Earth
An international team of researchers has discovered a puzzling surplus of high-energy electrons bombarding Earth from space. The source of these cosmic rays is unknown, but it must be close to the solar system and could be made of dark matter. The
results were reported in the 20 November 2008 issue of the journal Nature.
"This is a big discovery," said co-author John Wefel of Louisiana State University. "It's the first time we've seen a discrete source of accelerated cosmic rays standing out from the general galactic background." To study the most powerful and interesting cosmic rays, Wefel and colleagues spent the last eight years flying a series of balloons through the stratosphere over Antarctica. Their NASA-funded cosmic ray detector found a significant surplus of high-energy electrons.
"The source of these exotic electrons must be relatively close to the solar system—no more than a kiloparsec away," said co-author Jim Adams of the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center.
Galactic cosmic rays are subatomic particles accelerated to almost light- speed by distant supernovae explosions and other violent events. They swarm through the Milky Way, forming a haze of highenergy particles that enter the solar system from all
Thanks human, but short term radiation is still radiation
Climate is indeed driven by the Sun. But the energy output by the Sun has not changed by any significant amount. We are not getting more energy from the Sun so the warming must be from something else. Rising CO2 levels and feedbacks associated with them fit the bill.
Now how about "climate change", would this mean that climate change is more of an affect of the sun, and wouldnt that suggest that we have less influence over the climate then we think?
Air pollution occurs when the air contains gases, dust, fumes or odor in harmful amounts—aerosols are a subset of air pollution that refers to the tiny particles suspended everywhere in our atmosphere. These particles can be both solid and liquid and are collectively referred to as ‘atmospheric aerosol particles’ . Most are produced by natural processes such as erupting volcanoes, and some are from human industrial and agricultural activities (see Figure 1). Those particles in the lowest layer of the atmosphere, where our weather occurs, usually stay relatively close to the source of emissions and remain in the atmosphere only a few days to a week before they fall to the ground or are rained out; those higher up in the atmosphere travel farther and may linger in the atmosphere for a few years. Light-colored aerosol particles can reflect incoming energy from the sun (heat) in cloud-free air and dark particles can absorb it. Aerosols can modify how much energy clouds reflect and they can change atmospheric circulation patterns—in short, aerosols can modify our climate . Several climate engineering (so-called ‘geoengineering’) strategies for reducing global warming propose using atmospheric aerosol particles to reflect the sun’s energy away from Earth. Because aerosol particles do not stay in the atmosphere for very long—and global warming gases stay in the atmosphere for decades to centuries—accumulated heat-trapping gases will overpower any temporary cooling due to short-lived aerosol particles.