The second highest layer of the atmosphere, Earth’s thermosphere, recently reached a nearly 20-year temperature peak after absorbing the energy of the geomagnetic storms that hit our planet this year. Experts warn that temperatures in the thermosphere will continue to rise over the next few years because of increased solar activity, which could affect satellites in Earth orbit.
Solar activity is a key factor in changing the temperature of Earth’s thermosphere. Changes in solar activity cause geomagnetic storms – severe disturbances of Earth’s magnetic field caused by fast-moving particles such as coronal mass ejections and solar wind. These “storms” deposit their energy in the thermosphere and cause it to heat up. Increased heating in turn leads to increased infrared emission of nitrogen oxide and carbon dioxide in the thermosphere. Usually after a geomagnetic storm, the infrared radiation cools the thermosphere, but when storms recur, the temperature remains high.
Thus, after a series of geomagnetic storms in January and February this year, the thermospheric temperature peaked in March. The value of the Thermospheric Climate Index (TCI), which is measured in terawatts and is used to determine the temperature of the thermosphere, rose sharply to 0.24 TW. This is the highest TCI value in the last 20 years.
However, this is not the only geomagnetic storm that has occurred this year. Two more powerful geomagnetic storms hit Earth in March and April. After these storms, TCI values remained high, but have not yet exceeded the March peak.
It is interesting to note that some of these solar storms were not the strongest, but their effect on the Earth’s thermosphere was significant. This suggests that a powerful solar storm can have an unusually strong impact on our planet.
Geomagnetic storms become more frequent and intense during solar maxima, the period of greatest solar activity. During the approximately 11-year solar cycle, the Sun becomes most active and is covered in dark sunspots and plasma loops, spewing coronal emissions and solar wind.
It should be noted that this information is based on data from NASA’s Thermosphere, Ionosphere, Mesosphere, Energy, and Dynamics (TIMED) satellite. The data collected by this satellite is converted into a Thermospheric Climate Index (TCI) and allows scientists to study and monitor changes in the Earth’s thermosphere.
Overall, this new data on the increase in the Earth’s thermosphere temperature demonstrates the importance of studying solar activity and its effects on our planet. It also underscores the need for further research in this area and the development of measures to protect satellites and other space objects from the possible negative effects of geomagnetic storms.