How solar flares affect the Earth’s energy balance

Cosmic ray showers in the atmosphere can be important for cloud formation.

Cosmic ray showers in the atmosphere can be important for cloud formation.

Eruptions in the Sun have a great effect on the clouds and the energy balance of the Land, what could have been accurately measured for the first time.

This is the result of a new study made by researchers from DTU Space at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) and from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

“We tested the effects of cosmic rays in the atmosphere for about two weeks. When solar flares reduce the flux of cosmic rays reaching Earth, they temporarily reduce the production of small aerosols.. Aerosols are molecular groups in the air that normally grow to sow water droplets. low-level cloud. This, in turn, reduces cloud cover, which is known to affect climate, “says lead researcher Henrik Svensmark of Denmark’s University of Technology and lead author of the study published in Scientific Reports.

The breakthrough is that the effect on Earth’s energy budget has been directly quantified using detailed satellite observations from the CERES instrument on NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites. The observation is that the Earth absorbs almost 2 W / m2 of extra energy within 4 to 6 days of the cosmic ray minimum.

This research connects observable variations in clouds and Earth’s energy budget with Danish experiments and laboratory theory. Shows how cosmics rays they help produce the most important aerosols and accelerate their growth to cloud condensation nuclei.

The team’s previous research predicted that the effects should be most noticeable in low-altitude liquid clouds over the oceans is confirmed by the new study. Spatial maps verify that the dominant changes in the net radiative forcing they come from the low clouds of liquid over the pristine seas.

“Now we have simultaneous observations of declining cosmic rays, aerosols, clouds and the budget of Energy, which it’s it’s quite surprising “, adds the professor of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Nir Shaviv, coordinator of the work.

“The solar effects in this study are too brief to have a lasting effect on climate. However, they dramatize the cosmic ray cloud mechanism It works with more patience on longer timescales. The hope is that this result will help rethink the long-term effect of solar activity and cosmic rays on the climate“says Henrik Svensmark.


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