This article has been reviewed according to Science X's editorial process and policies. Editors have highlighted the following attributes while ensuring the content's credibility:

fact-checked

trusted source

proofread

Forecast model predicts how the solar eclipse will shift the weather

Solar eclipse
Total Solar eclipse 1999 in France. Credit: Wikipedia, by Luc Viatour.

When the moon's shadow sweeps across the U.S. West from Oregon to Texas during the upcoming annular eclipse on October 14, people working in the energy industry may be able to sit back for a moment and enjoy the event with less worry than in the past. That's because this time around, NOAA's short-range weather forecast model HRRR (High-Resolution Rapid Refresh) includes the eclipse in its weather forecasts—and that means better forecasts for the wind, solar, and even conventional energy sectors.

"This is important for the , allowing them to use NOAA's weather model toward predicting solar and even during rare but important eclipse disruptions," said Stan Benjamin, a CIRES scientist who was the senior scientist at the NOAA Global Systems Laboratory (GSL) until his federal retirement last year.

In places where rooftop , , or wind farms contribute to power generation, the industry will now be able to model potential disruptions caused by the eclipse and make plans to adjust generation and backup.

Benjamin and his team—including colleagues from NOAA GSL, CIRES, and CIRA—first incorporated eclipses into the then-experimental version of the HRRR model before the 2017 total , and it worked well, Benjamin said. By the time a hit the Arctic in June 2021, NOAA's operational included eclipses. Now, that model is taking on, for the first time, an eclipse over the continental United States.

An experimental NOAA weather forecast before the total solar eclipse in August 2017 predicted how downward solar radiation would diminish as the moon’s shadow passed across the land. Eclipses can lessen temperatures, winds, and more—and now NOAA’s short-term weather forecasts include the impact of eclipses. This is a visualization of the forecast, by the  HRRR, or High-Resolution Rapid Refresh. Credit: NOAA Global Systems Laboratory

In a solar eclipse, the moon passes between Earth and the sun, fully or partially obscuring our star for a little while, and temperatures can dip 4-10 °F (2-6 °C). Less solar radiation hits the Earth, and since spatial differences in drive turbulence in the atmosphere, the winds will quiet for a while.

For a few hours that morning, as the eclipse passes by and temperatures remain lower for longer, the turbulent eddies that normally mix up the lowest part of our atmosphere will be less intense, which can greatly affect changes in the lowest part of the atmosphere. Less turbulence can affect low-level clouds, too, and some may disappear before or after the eclipse, with further impacts on the amount of downwelling solar energy.

An experimental NOAA weather forecast before the total solar eclipse in August 2017 predicted how downward solar radiation would diminish as the moon’s shadow passed across the land. Eclipses can lessen temperatures, winds, and more—and now NOAA’s short-term weather forecasts include the impact of eclipses. This is a visualization of the forecast, by the  HRRR, or High-Resolution Rapid Refresh. Credit: NOAA Global Systems Laboratory

Thanks to this team's work, the HRRR now represents all solar eclipses that will occur in the next 4 decades, including the that will pass over the United States from Texas to the Northeast on April 8, 2024.

Energy industry representatives have publicly shared their gratitude to the team on LinkedIn. "Thanks for the amazing teamwork," Amber Motley, director of short-term forecasting at the California Independent Systems Operator, wrote to Benjamin. "Grateful to be able to utilize the HRRR to account for impacts."

"Improvements like this to the HRRR are an example of the research being done by NOAA and its partners," said Dave Turner, GSL's current senior scientist.

"Scientists in NOAA are focusing on how to provide improved forecasts of solar and wind, which has been demonstrated to save the energy consumers potentially tens of millions of dollars per year by providing the information needed by the energy companies to more efficiently integrate renewable energy into the electrical grid. More accurate solar and wind forecasts from NOAA also help to accelerate the decarbonization of power generation in the United States."

Citation: Forecast model predicts how the solar eclipse will shift the weather (2023, October 11) retrieved 1 March 2024 from https://phys.org/news/2023-10-solar-eclipse-shift-weather.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Explore further

Partial solar eclipse takes a bite out of the sun

8 shares

Feedback to editors