Institute for Terrestrial and Planetary Atmospheres at spheric chemistry on climate change and weather. "It the State University of New York at Stony Brook, is is important for future studies to identify and explain the lead author of a paper that discusses this topic, ap- in detail the link between solar variability, ozone, the pearing in the 1 July issue of Geophysical Research atmospheric circulation, and cloud cover," Udelhofen Letters. said. "Based on these results and because the location of This research is part of the NASA Earth Science the je t stream influences cloudiness," said Udelhofen, Enterprise program, which is dedicated to understand- "we suggest that the je t stream plays an important role ing how earth is changing and what consequences in linking solar variability and cloud cover." The jet these changes have for life on earth. stream is a ribbon of fast-moving air in the upper tro- posphere that blows from west to east. Storms beneath NOAA Provides Central America Life-Saving Satellite Weather Technology the jet stream follow its path. A shift in the je t stream can alter the location of clouds and precipitation across Weather forecasting in Central America is getting the United States. a boost from some environmental satellite high-reso- The troposphere is the region of the atmosphere that lution imagery and data as part of a $1 billion, U.S.- extends from the earth's surface out to about 50,000 financed reconstruction and development effort. The feet and is the focus of local, regional, and global effort followed in the wake of Hurricane Mitch, a 1998 weather research. The stratosphere extends above the killer storm that took 11,000 lives. The satellites are troposphere to about 150,000 feet and is the region operated by NOAA. The data they provide will help where the ozone layer is formed. to improve weather forecasts throughout the region. The improved forecasts will assist warning efforts to The sun's energy output varies over an 11-year save lives and property at risk from severe weather. cycle, sending more ultraviolet radiation toward the earth during times of increased activity. While the On 26 July, the United States transferred to Costa sun's total energy output only varies by about one- Rica a satellite ground station that will bring high-reso- tenth of 1 % between periods of low and high solar lution digital imagery from NOAA's Geostationary activity, the ultraviolet radiation that affects ozone pro- Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES) to the duction in the stratosphere can change by more than 10%. Central American region. This system will allow Ultraviolet radiation is absorbed in the earth's weather forecasters in the region to perform quantita- stratosphere and creates the protective ozone layer. tive analysis of the data, which will lead to enhanced When the ozone absorbs ultraviolet radiation, it warms forecasting. From a hub in San Jose, Costa Rica, the the stratosphere, which may affect movemen t of air in data will be distributed to meteorological services in the troposphere where clouds form. Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Solar cycle effects of ultraviolet radiation absorp- and Panama. tion by ozone in the stratosphere, its impact on atmo- spheric circulation, and the location of storm tracks have been the subject of recent earth science research. "Our results show that cloudiness varies on aver- age by about 2% between years of solar maximum and minimum. In most parts of the U.S., cloud cover is slightly greater in years of solar maximum," noted Udelhofen. Though more investigation is needed to better un- 1227 Susan Vessel] 2001 derstand just how changes in the sun's ultraviolet en- 1228 Michael Iscovitz 2001 ergy output is linked to atmospheric winds, the study 1229 Eric Braate 2001 helps people identify potential large-scale mechanisms 1230 Jason Parrish 2001 that affect local and regional climates. 1231 Jay Polk 2001 Scientists continue to investigate mechanisms that 1232 Allison Landers 2001 may link solar variability with weather. These new results support the idea of a link between stratospheric chemistry and meteorology, and support other recent theoretical studies associated with the impact of strato- Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 219 7
Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society – American Meteorological Society
Published: Oct 1, 2001
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