(ORDO NEWS) — Solar Cycle 25 is intensifying – and Earth’s upper atmosphere is reacting to it.
“The Climate Thermosphere Index (TCI) is now skyrocketing,” says Linda Hunt of Science Systems and Applications, Inc. “Over the past year, it has almost tripled.”
TCI is a number released daily by NASA that tells us how hot Earth’s upper atmosphere is.
The thermosphere, the uppermost layer of our atmosphere, literally comes into contact with space and is a kind of “first reactor” for solar activity.
Hunt created this graph showing how TCI has unfolded over the last 7 solar cycles. Solar Cycle 25 (shown in blue) is just beginning:
“So far, Solar Cycle 25 is well ahead of Solar Cycle 24,” Hunt notes. If this trend continues, the temperature in the thermosphere could soon reach a 20-year high.”
Before we continue, a few words of caution: This does not mean that the Earth will warm up anytime soon.
The thermosphere is hundreds of kilometers above our heads. Here, on the surface of the planet, we do not feel its heat; summer days are not warmer when TCI is “hot”.
As NASA’s Dr. Marty Mlynchak notes, “the energy driving the climate system near the Earth’s surface is hundreds of thousands of times greater than in the thermosphere.”
As far as we know, the cyclic warming and cooling of the thermosphere as a result of the solar cycle does not affect the climate.
However, the thermosphere is important. When it heats up, as it does now, it also swells up. Remember the marshmallows held over the fire.
The thermosphere can expand upwards so much that it actually hits satellites in Earth orbit. Earlier this year, almost 40 Starlink satellites fell from the sky as a result of aerodynamic drag.
TCI may also have some predictive value. The Hunt chart shows that the index is on an upward trajectory that most closely mimics the 20th solar cycle, which peaked in the 1970s.
Solar cycle 20 was above the average solar cycle with high solar activity. Coincidentally, the new prediction for solar cycle 25, based on the onset of the end event, suggests the same thing: 25th could be the new 20th.
If this turns out to be true, then Solar Cycle 25 will be stronger than its immediate predecessor, the weak Solar Cycle 24.
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