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Puzzling Scientists; Earth’s Upper Thermosphere Collapses

Monday, August 22, 2011 21:27
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Summary: “The thermosphere”, the layer of Earth’s atmosphere that meets space, recently collapsed and is now rebounding again…and we don’t know why. The thermosphere is important because it shields us from the Sun’s Extreme Ultraviolet Photons.
HERE The Collapse of the Thermosphere Based on a science@NASA news release

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.

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.

Lately, solar activity has been very low. In 2008 and 2009, the Sun plunged into a century-class solar minimum. Sunspots were scarce, solar flares almost non-existent, and solar EUV radiation was at a low ebb. Researchers immediately turned their attention to the thermosphere to see what would happen.

How do you know what’s happening all the way up in the thermosphere?

Emmert uses a clever technique: Because satellites feel aerodynamic drag when they move through the thermosphere, it is possible to monitor conditions there by watching satellites decay. He analyzed the decay rates of more than 5000 satellites ranging in altitude between 200 and 600 km and ranging in time between 1967 and 2010. This provided a unique space-time sampling of thermospheric density, temperature, and pressure covering almost the entire Space Age. In this way he discovered that the thermospheric collapse of 2008-2009 was not only bigger than any previous collapse, but also bigger than the Sun alone could explain.

One possible explanation is carbon dioxide (CO 2).

When carbon dioxide gets into the thermosphere, it acts as a coolant, shedding heat via infrared radiation. It is widely-known that CO 2 levels have been increasing in Earth’s atmosphere. Extra CO2 in the thermosphere could have magnified the cooling action of solar minimum.

“But the numbers don’t quite add up,” says Emmert. “Even when we take CO 2 into account using our best understanding of how it operates as a coolant, we cannot fully explain the thermosphere’s collapse.”

Image of an ‘eruptive prominence’ on the Sun captured in March of 2004 by the SOHO spacecraft. Energy from the Sun has a profound effect on our planet’s biosphere. Credit: SOHO

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.

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.

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Total 15 comments
  • Anonymous

    With the utilization of the HAARP technology in stretching the stratosphere on a daily basis could likely be the cause of this problem with the Thermosphere.

    Nicola Tesla called his machine “The Death Ray” and there was a reason for this title as this technology has the potential to kill mass numbers of life within a very short period of time and almost nobody would suspect who or what caused these deaths, just look around the news or GOOGLE animal deaths globally and you will likely come to the same conclusion as myself and look towards HAARP as the most likely culprit.


    The Planisphere is going to be “NATURE’S GREATEST” problem
    according to the hidden texts of Nostradamus

    Spain Saturn and Mars in Leo captive

    Saturne et Mars en Leo Espagne captifve
    SaturneMarsLeoEspagne =
    Plague – some ensnare rats
    GASES ORNAMENT (October) LEPUS (Rabbit) ERA

    ORNAMENT is obsolete for Libra/October and is also a pun in this case

    When planispheres of two approaching planetary bodies cross paths (and this need not be closer than 500,000 miles) an inter-raction occurs which has influences science has yet to quantify.

    The last time this happened it was given a name in the Bible
    “the Destroyer”

    Scientists should not be “mystified” at all – one only needs to take a very close look at history.

    a good place to start is with

    Currently close to completion
    the forum PLANAR CROP CIRCLES in the Hidden Texts
    by Nostradamus
    is scaring the heck out of me

  • Anonymous

    What a stupid thing for these scientists to say – anyone who has read the material and the patent information for HARRP could tell them why the thermosphere collapsed and is now rebounding – when HARRP is activated it heats up an area that is 22 acres around any one of the sites to the tune of 1400 degrees Kalven, even during the coldest Arctic winter, America owns three, Russia has two, China has two, and Australia has one – can’t remember where the rest are located.

    So, if more than one of the HARRP sites is activated, the stratosphere, ionosphere, and thermosphere all heat up – hummmmm! Collapse imminent? I think so.

    What a bunch of fools masquerading as REAL scientists.

  • Savage

    Maybe it’s just me, but I notice two striking discrepancies here. One, Al Gore and crew all say that CO2 is heating us up, yet this article talks about the cooling power of CO2? Two If you go back a month or two all the talk was about this super solar maximum that was to reach its peak in 2012-2013. All about the tremendous solar flares and sunspots to disrupt communications and destroy satellites. This article states that we are now coming to the end of a super solar minimum. Either I am very confused or somebody is shoveling out an awful lot of organic fertilizer!

  • Anonymous

    Hay NASA. Have You herd of HAARP?

  • The Red Pill

    Dude above me has a nice point. WTF..

  • Master Ascension

    The article states repeatedly that it is speaking of 2008-2009 solar minimum.

  • lakota

    We the people of morality and conscience really need to find a way to get rid of the psychopaths that do these things and change the direction of our whole world for the good of all life on Earth.

  • Nae affy anonymous

    wtf is a heavy molecule such as CO2 doing all the way up there? Correct me if I’m wrong but shouldn’t the atmosphere at those heights consist of our lightest elements? I’d definetly be questioning scientists playing around with the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program rather than attempting to demonise CO2 further.

  • Ashraf Moussa M

    ((Maybe it’s just me, but I notice two striking discrepancies here. One, Al Gore and crew all say that CO2 is heating us up, yet this article talks about the cooling power of CO2?))

    Ditto here.

    The article talks about the “cooling” effect of CO2, how it goes in contradiction with the “global warming theorem” effect due to the increase of CO2 in atmosphere resulted in raising the temperature.


    We the people are no longer idiot idles.

  • Kolta

    Thousands of articles are published globally everyday pertaining to the subject matter mentioned. And, everyday these same folks act….surprised. Why? Is this part of their daily ritual, to feign surprise. This comment is for any of you mind fucked controlled government stooges….stop with the act. You soulless assholes are the ones that manufactured, and are operating the weapon systems that are being use against the inhabitants of this planet and or you have extensive knowledge pertaining to such. Chemtrails, H.A.A.R.P., space base weapons system, etc. Stop with the fucking act already, WE KNOW WHAT’S GOING ON AND WHO’S BEHIND IT. The shame is we have to fix what all of you ELF’s broke.

  • agw nonsense

    I suppose since AGW has become such a (bad) joke The Panic Merchants HAVE to find something else to PANIC about.CO2 is life

  • The Red Pill


    I hate how people leave comments acting like there talking to the ‘elites’ directly face to face. Why would I wanna read that? Waste..

  • Anonymous

    You may as well get your scientific knowledge from Goldmann Sachs as they have more knowledge than most “scientists” put together.
    “Academia” is the haven for the quack, the corrupt and the incompetent who are too afraid to work and get their hands dirty. They spend their whole lives trying to justify their existence with some utterly fake “break through” or spend their time researching valueless and worthless junk “science” which only they and their cronies give a fig about and benefit no-one.
    NASA answers DIRECTLY to the office of the President and is therefore a POLITICAL institution, not a scientific one like the fraud they get you to believe.
    Id rather listen to the Tellytubbies as they have more credibility and are less corrupt than most academics.

  • akaHardUp

    “One possible explanation is carbon dioxide (CO 2)”
    all this article is about is more demonisation of CO2, not only does it heat and cause problems it cools and causes problems.. WTF

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