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5/03/2011

The Sun-Earth Connection

Article By Louis Baker for Zen College Life

If you’ve watched news in the last few years, you probably remember hearing a thing or two about NASA’s theories on solar activity, and how it relates to the climate on Earth. While there were many theories over the past decade that attempted to postulate how and to what extent solar “weather” influenced world weather, a recent survey unveiled truly how connected the Earth and the Sun really are.
In August of 2009, researchers from a number of worldwide astronomical institutes discovered that slight fluctuations in solar activity influence a large part of world climate.
How could minute shifts in solar energy output in turn change the climate of an entire world? Popular scientists ask you to examine a model of scale in your brain. Imagine the Sun and Earth next to each other. The Earth is miniscule in size in comparison so the Sun, so any small shift in solar activity will obviously have a larger effect on a much smaller body of rock.
Solar activity has increased in the last couple of months, and scientists are attempting to forecast how variation will in turn affect the weather striking the globe this year and next. The 11-year solar cycle is connected to the stratosphere and the tropical Pacific Ocean, which literally sync in with solar activity to engender weather conditions that in turn affect the climate across Earth.
The National Center for Atmospheric research observed more than a century of climate patterns to create three comprehensive computer models to help take on one of the persistent questions of meteorology: to what degree do solar flares and variations in solar activity affect world climate?
According to the study, the Sun has a great impact on two regions of the planet. The stratosphere contains a number of chemicals shared with the Pacific Ocean that respond to the solar maximum by intensifying the Sun’s influence over the movement of air. This can straightforwardly amplify winds and precipitation, shifting surface temperatures of the ocean and changing cloud cover, which in due course influences worldwide weather in a chain reaction of meteorological events.
Since worldwide climate is connected with agriculture, certain crops will have a harder time growing under altered weather conditions; especially in Asia where timing crop growth in rainy seasons is the difference between flourishing revenue and utter financial collapse.
Catastrophic weather events also offset the geopolitical balance of states in many sensitive areas of the world. Crisis response can unearth unseen or overlooked troubles that would have otherwise gone unnoticed until a given government actually has to become responsible for the lives of its people. Weather events like this can also weaken the infrastructure of many states if damage is widespread. Take for example frequent mudslides and flash floods in the temperate areas of South America, where under the right conditions, rainy seasons can decimate villages and send cities into chaos for weeks at a time.
It is interesting to ponder upon the fact that we are truly connected to our Sun. Not only does our planet gravitate towards it naturally, but it dances in a fragile balance of life and death. The Earth subsists on the Sun for warmth and energy, but the Sun’s random shifts in energy distribution patterns can so easily deprive Earth of the gift of life that it has bestowed upon us.

About the Author: Louise Baker ranks online programs for Zen College Life. She most recently wrote about getting an online criminal justice degree.
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