Earth's magnetic field is important for climate change at high altitudes

May 26, 2014

New research, published this week, has provided scientists with greater insight into the climatic changes happening in the upper atmosphere. Scientists found that changes in the Earth's magnetic field are more relevant for climatic changes in the upper atmosphere (about 100-500 km above the surface) than previously thought. Understanding the cause of long-term change in this area helps scientists to predict what will happen in the future. This has key implications for life back on earth.

A good understanding of the long-term behaviour of the is essential; it affects a lot of satellite-based technology, such as global navigation systems and high-frequency radio communication systems. Some satellites even operate within the upper atmosphere itself.

The increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration has been thought to be the main cause of climatic changes at these high altitudes. This study suggests that changes that have taken place over the past century are as important.

Both increasing levels of CO2 and changes in the Earth's magnetic field affect the upper atmosphere, including its charged portion, also known as the ionosphere. Dr. Ingrid Cnossen from the British Antarctic Survey used computer simulations to compare the effects of these two factors over the past century.

While CO2 causes heat to be trapped in the lower atmosphere, it actually cools the upper atmosphere. The simulations show that the increase in CO2 concentration over the past 100 years has caused the upper atmosphere, at around 300 km altitude, to cool by around 8 degrees. At the same altitude, changes in the Earth's magnetic field caused a similar amount of cooling over parts of North America, but caused a warming over other parts of the world, with the strongest warming, of up to 12 degrees, located over Antarctica.

Dr. Ingrid Cnossen said: "Computer simulations are a very important tool in understanding the causes of climate change at . We still can't explain all of the long-term trends that have been observed, but it helps that we now know how important the magnetic field is."

The new simulations also indicate that rising CO2 levels have caused the densest part of the ionosphere to lower by about 5 km globally. Changes in the Earth's magnetic field can cause much larger changes, but they are very dependent on location and can be either positive or negative; over the southern Atlantic Ocean a decrease in height of up to 50 km was found, while an increase in height of up to 20 km was found over western Africa.

The findings are published in the Journal of Space Weather and Space Climate.

Explore further: Swarm's precise sense of magnetism

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Swarm's precise sense of magnetism

May 08, 2014

(Phys.org) —Although they were launched only five months ago, ESA's trio of Swarm satellites are already delivering results with a precision that took earlier missions 10 years to achieve.

ESA SWARMing Earth's magnetic field

Nov 25, 2013

ESA's three-satellite Swarm constellation was lofted into a near-polar orbit by a Russian Rockot launcher this afternoon. For four years, it will monitor Earth's magnetic field, from the depth of our planet's ...

Radio waves carry news of climate change

Jul 30, 2013

The ionosphere, one of the regions of the upper atmosphere, plays an important role in global communications. Ionized by solar radiation, this electricity-rich region is used for the transmission of long ...

Swarm heads for new heights

Feb 07, 2014

(Phys.org) —Some tricky manoeuvres are now under way to steer ESA's trio of Swarm satellites into their respective orbits so that they can start delivering the best-ever survey of our magnetic field.

Recommended for you

NASA radar system surveys Napa Valley quake area

57 minutes ago

NASA scientists are conducting an airborne survey of earthquake fault displacements in the Napa Valley area of Northern California using a sophisticated radar system developed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, ...

Aging Africa

Aug 29, 2014

In the September issue of GSA Today, Paul Bierman of the University of Vermont–Burlington and colleagues present a cosmogenic view of erosion, relief generation, and the age of faulting in southernmost Africa ...

NASA animation shows Hurricane Marie winding down

Aug 29, 2014

NOAA's GOES-West satellite keeps a continuous eye on the Eastern Pacific and has been covering Hurricane Marie since birth. NASA's GOES Project uses NOAA data and creates animations and did so to show the end of Hurricane ...

User comments : 12

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

cantdrive85
1.3 / 5 (13) May 26, 2014
The new simulations also indicate that rising CO2 levels have caused the densest part of the ionosphere to lower by about 5 km globally.


So now CO2 is responsible for the height of the ionosphere? Moronic! Changes in the Earth-Sun connection are responsible for changes in the magnetic field, not plant food.
cantdrive85
1.3 / 5 (13) May 26, 2014
It should also be noted that this little nugget;
http://phys.org/n...firstCmt

and how the ionosphere is connected to weather patterns on Earth; http://berkeley.e...er.shtml

and how the other aspects of the electromagnetic field are affected by the sun;
http://scitechdai...on-ring/

shows that there are far larger forces involved than the piddling effect of CO2 in the atmosphere. The fact that rising CO2 levels FOLLOWS the warming trends historically is completely ignored by the AGWite trolls.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (11) May 26, 2014
The second link;
http://berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2006/09/14_weather.shtml

"The connection between thunderstorms and plasma bands in the ionosphere at first seemed unlikely"
Oddly the Electric Universe assumes this connection based upon laboratory experiment.

they continue...
"To get an idea of what might be happening, Immel and his UC Berkeley colleagues modeled the atmospheric tides using a computer simulation"
Computer games, awesome! The irony is some call EU pseudoscience when in fact, first and foremost laboratory experimentation is the foundation.

They continue their confusion here;
"We now know that accurate predictions of ionospheric disturbances have to incorporate this effect from tropical weather."

Cart in front of the horse, the electric currents flowing around the earth feed these hot spots.

"North America is in one of these sectors"
Which is why large scale tornado outbreaks follow solar events. X-class flares often precede F5 tornadoes, such as Joplin
Caliban
5 / 5 (9) May 27, 2014
Aha --it's all due the Electric Universe of Miraculous Plasma, just like everything else --including your (tinfoil)hat size.

So now CO2 is responsible for the height of the ionosphere? Moronic! Changes in the Earth-Sun connection are responsible for changes in the magnetic field, not plant food.


It's too much to ask, I know, that you understand the intimate relation between temp and density in atmospheric gases, However, and quite simply, net trapping of heat ln the lower atmosphere leads to reduced heating higher in the atmosphere, resulting in colder, denser, upper heights, ie, compression/"subsidence" of air column due to influence of gravity. In this case, specifically, about 5km of vertical extent.

Since you missed your mark right out of the gate, I won't even bother to take a crack at the rest of your EU/P rhapsodizing. It's pretty hard to score a win when you are down at the outset.

cantdrive85
1 / 5 (11) May 27, 2014
Yep, that's the theory that was held before this discovery, and oddly did not predict this observation. It's ironic your comment about miraculous plasma in light of the claims about CO2 above. At least plasma makes up 99.999% of the universe, CO2 is what, .004% of the atmosphere.
rockwolf1000
4.5 / 5 (8) May 27, 2014
Yep, that's the theory that was held before this discovery, and oddly did not predict this observation. It's ironic your comment about miraculous plasma in light of the claims about CO2 above. At least plasma makes up 99.999% of the universe, CO2 is what, .004% of the atmosphere.



.004% More lies from cantdrive
http://en.wikiped...of_Earth
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (6) May 27, 2014
Yep, that's the theory that was held before this discovery, and oddly did not predict this observation. It's ironic your comment about miraculous plasma in light of the claims about CO2 above. At least plasma makes up 99.999% of the universe, CO2 is what, .004% of the atmosphere.



.004% More lies from cantdrive
http://en.wikiped...of_Earth

Oops, sorry. An honest mistake. .04%. If only I would have left the percentage sign off, .004 would have been accurate.
Caliban
4.8 / 5 (5) May 27, 2014
Yep, that's the theory that was held before this discovery, and oddly did not predict this observation. It's ironic your comment about miraculous plasma in light of the claims about CO2 above. At least plasma makes up 99.999% of the universe, CO2 is what, .004% of the atmosphere.



.004% More lies from cantdrive
http://en.wikiped...of_Earth

Oops, sorry. An honest mistake. .04%. If only I would have left the percentage sign off, .004 would have been accurate.


Wrong again. 4 hundredths of a percent(004%) does not equal 4 thousandths(,004).

rockwolf1000
5 / 5 (5) May 28, 2014
@ Caliban

"Wrong again. 4 hundredths of a percent(004%) does not equal 4 thousandths(,004)."

I think you meant 0.04% and not 004% however.
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (4) May 28, 2014
Wrong again. 4 hundredths of a percent(004%) does not equal 4 thousandths(,004).


Doesn't .04% equal .0004, anymore?
rockwolf1000
5 / 5 (3) May 28, 2014
Wrong again. 4 hundredths of a percent(004%) does not equal 4 thousandths(,004).


Doesn't .04% equal .0004, anymore?


Yup. To convert from percent move the decimal place twice to the left. Eventually we get it figured out. :D
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (5) May 28, 2014
Whatever .04% is, it's less than 99.999% by a lot...

Damn cellphone posts on the run.