Earth’s upper atmosphere began to contract
Geophysical Research Letter: Earth’s upper atmosphere is sinking and cooling
Scientists at the NASA Research Center have revealed that the upper layer of the Earth’s atmosphere is beginning to sink due to carbon dioxide, which will be reflected in the near-Earth debris. Research results Published In Geophysical Research Letters.
The closer to the Earth’s surface carbon dioxide accumulates in the atmosphere, the higher the temperature will increase. However, from the outermost layers of the atmosphere – in the mesosphere and lower thermosphere (MLT, which starts at 60 km), carbon dioxide begins to cool these parts, causing them to contract.
In new work, experts report the first signs of decline in the upper atmosphere. To do this, pressure and temperature data from the NASA TIMED satellite were analyzed. Due to the fact that the last solar cycle was weakly active, the authors were able to separate the influence of carbon dioxide and solar activity.
Between 2002 and 2019, the MLT was found to have decreased by more than 1.3 km. According to the researchers, carbon dioxide is causing a decrease of about 340 meters and this process is likely to continue forever. Additionally, the upper mesosphere and lower thermosphere cooled by 1.7 degrees Celsius.
MLT cooling and compression will increase the longevity of space debris at high altitudes, including the upper thermosphere, posing a threat to the International Space Station (ISS) and other objects in low Earth orbit.
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