Recent Solar Storms Pumped 26 billion Kilowatts of Energy into Earth’s Atmosphere
by NANCY ATKINSON
MARCH 23, 2012
The recent solar activity did more than spark pretty auroras around the poles. Researchers say the solar storms of March 8th through 10th dumped enough energy in Earth’s upper atmosphere to power every residence in New York City for two years.
“This was the biggest dose of heat we’ve received from a solar storm since 2005,” says Martin Mlynczak of NASA Langley Research Center. “It was a big event, and shows how solar activity can directly affect our planet.”
For the three day period, March 8th through 10th, the thermosphere absorbed 26 billion kWh of energy. Infrared radiation from carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, the two most efficient coolants in the thermosphere, re-radiated 95% of that total back into space.