NASA: Modeling the Sun

NASA has recently made two advances in studying the sun’s effects on the Earth. The first is a new study that measures the Earth’s “energy imbalance,” the difference between the amount of energy it absorbs from the sun and the amount it releases back into space. When the imbalance is positive, and the Earth is absorbing more energy than it is releasing, the planet is getting warmer. This has been the case for some time. The recent study, however, utilizing data obtained from a global network of over 3400 scientific floats in the world’s oceans, found that despite three years of record low solar irradiation (an extended period of what is otherwise a normal downward swing in the sun’s output), the Earth continued to store more energy than it released, proving that global climate change is caused by factors other than the sun:

“The fact that we still see a positive imbalance despite the prolonged solar minimum isn’t a surprise given what we’ve learned about the climate system, but it’s worth noting because this provides unequivocal evidence that the sun is not the dominant driver of global warming,” Hansen said.

Read about it here.

A second NASA initiative seeks to predict solar weather far more accurately than is currently possible, allowing for possible emergency measures to be taken in the case of particularly destructive solar flares. The new system, which will take almost three years to fully implement, involves “ensemble forecasting,” the production of many simultaneous simulations based on various parameters.

Read about it here.


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