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Sun's Fluctuations Caused Partial Collapse of Earth's Atmosphere
Friday, August 27th 2010, 5:23 PM EDT
Co2sceptic (Site Admin)
As the sun's energy rises and falls, so goes the Earth's atmosphere, a new study suggests.

These fluctuations in the sun's energy explain a recent partial collapse of the Earth's upper atmosphere, which had previously puzzled scientists.

A sharp drop in the sun's ultraviolet radiation levels triggered the collapse, according to the new study, detailed in the Aug. 25 edition of the journal Geophysical Research Letters. The researchers also found that the sun's magnetic cycle, which produces differing numbers of sunspots over an approximately 11-year cycle, may vary more than previously thought.

"Our work demonstrates that the solar cycle not only varies on the typical 11-year time scale, but also can vary from one solar minimum to another," said study team member Stanley Solomon of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo. "All solar minima are not equal."

The findings may have implications for orbiting satellites, as well as for the International Space Station.


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During a collapse, the fact that the layer in the upper atmosphere known as the thermosphere is shrunken and less dense means that satellites can more easily maintain their orbits. But it also indicates that space debris and other objects that pose hazards may persist longer in the thermosphere.

http://www.ouramazingplanet.com/earth-atmosphere-layers-atmospheric-pressure-infographic-0326/] [Graphic: Earth's Atmosphere Top to Bottom

With lower thermospheric density, our satellites will have a longer life in orbit," said study team member Thomas Woods of the University of Colorado at Boulder. "This is good news for those satellites that are actually operating, but it is also bad because of the thousands of non-operating objects remaining in space that could potentially have collisions with our working satellites."

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Source Link: space.com
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