National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Living With A Star

Targeted Research and Technology

Solar Influence on Climate Inferred from the Radiant Energy Budget and Diabatic Circulation of the Middle Atmosphere

ROSES ID: NNH11ZDA001N      Selection Year: 2012      

Program Element: Sun Climate

Principal Investigator: Martin Mlynczak

Affiliation(s): NASA Langley Research Center

Project Member(s):
Hunt, Linda A Co-I SSAI
Mertens, Christopher J Collaborator NASA Langley Research Center
Remsberg, Ellis E. Collaborator NASA Langley Research Ctr.


We propose to investigate the influence of solar variability on the climate of the atmosphere from the tropopause into the thermosphere. We will do this by computing time series of the radiant energy budget at high vertical and temporal resolution throughout this entire region of the atmosphere from ~ 15 km to ~105 km. All terms in the radiant energy budget will be rigorously derived from extant satellite observations dating from 1978 through at least the year 2013, a 35-year time span. This approach enables comprehensive examination of the effects of solar variability directly within the atmosphere - in the energy budget - where it is first manifest. The examination of satellite data starting in 1978 also enables the differentiation of the effects of increasing carbon dioxide (CO2) from those due to solar variability. Atmospheric CO2 has increased approximately 20% since 1978. We also propose to compute the diabatic circulation from the energy budget in order to diagnose the effects of changes to the energy budget on atmospheric dynamics.

The results of this work will be far-reaching. First, the long-term time series of radiant heating and cooling throughout the entire middle atmosphere will enable direct determination of the influence of the Sun on the climate of this region. Previous studies have examined solar influence on temperature and species. However, the variability in those parameters is a direct consequence of the effects of solar variability on the energy budget. The proposed work will identify the occurrence of solar variability at its origin within the atmosphere. Second, the computation of the diabatic circulation will enable a direct assessement of the role of solar variability plays in altering the dynamics of the middle atmosphere. This is essential to understanding how solar variability may be communicated down into the troposphere through changes in the dynamics of the middle atmosphere. Finally, we will generate millions of profiles of radiant heating and cooling of the middle atmosphere. These data will be made publicly available to directly test and assess the radiant and chemical physics of multidimensional models of the middle atmosphere. Validation of model energetics is an essential first step in assessing a models predictive capability.

The proposed research will utilize multiple satellite datasets including the Limb Infrared Monitor of the Stratosphere (LIMS) instrument (1978-79); the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (1991-2000); the Thermosphere-Ionosphere-Mesosphere Energetics and Dynamics (TIMED) satellite (2001-present); the AURA satellite (2004  present); and the Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment (SORCE) satellite (2003-present).


Performance YearReferenceInvestigation TypeActions
1Verkhoglyadova, O. P.; Mannucci, A. J.; Tsurutani, B....
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1Mlynczak, Martin G.; Hunt, Linda A.; Marshall, B. Th...
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1Weimer, D. R.; Sutton, E. K.; Mlynczak, M. G.; Hunt...
not set
1Mlynczak, Martin G.; Hunt, Linda A.; Russell, James ...
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