The upper atmosphere, specifically Earth’s ionosphere may hold the answer to proving our climate is warming. The ionosphere is used for radio and other long wave communications. Researchers at Tel Aviv University have been studying the dynamics of radio waves reflecting off the ionosphere. The strength of reflected signals can indicate changes in the temperature of the upper atmosphere. Their research shows weaker radio signals bouncing back to Earth would indicate cooler temperatures in the upper atmosphere; and hence global warming down here where we humans live.
Did you know?
The ionosphere is a shell of electrons and electrically charged atoms and molecules that surrounds the Earth, stretching from a height of about 50 km (31 mi) to more than 1,000 km (620 mi). It owes its existence primarily to ultraviolet radiation from the Sun. [source: Wikipedia]
The presence of greenhouse gases in the upper atmosphere would be responsible for the absorption of radio wave signal strength, acting like a giant blanket around the Earth; and this keeps heat from escaping into space-hence the so-called greenhouse effect in the lower atmosphere. As the upper atmosphere gets colder, reflected radio signals lose their strength.
Tel Aviv researchers compared temperatures in the upper atmosphere [satellite collected data] with that collected and interpreted on the ground via reflected radio waves. A clear correlation, consistent over time was obtained. It is getting cooler in the upper atmosphere and that means warmer down here on “terra firma”.
Work done on this important research project will help scientists understand just how much the sun affects temperature changes in Earth’s atmosphere, versus how much man is impacting it. This effort could give a much more complete picture of what is happening in the upper atmosphere, which may also provide a better understanding of the impact of solar storms and thunderstorms on this high altitude region.
Did you know?
Edison’s discovery of what he called the Etheric Force [detection of electromagnetic waves propagated through air] later became the basis for wireless and soon thereafter radio. His discovery of the Edison Effect [the emission of electrons via heated light bulb filaments] led directly to the development by others of vacuum tubes, making modern radio possible. Edison is the taproot for modern day telecommunications.
Editor’s Deep Dive
Time ® is a registered trademark of Time Inc.