March solar storm dumps gigawatts into Earth’s upper atmosphere

According to NASA Science News, ” 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.”  Except we can’t harvest that energy.

“For the three day period, March 8th through 10th, the thermosphere absorbed 26 billion kWh of energy.  Infrared radiation from CO2 and NO, the two most efficient coolants in the thermosphere, re-radiated 95% of that total back into space.”

I rarely see NASA characterize carbon dioxide as a coolant.  However, in a previous post, I discuss how water vapor, a strong greenhouse gas, has a net cooling effect.

“During the heating impulse, the thermosphere puffed up like a marshmallow held over a campfire, temporarily increasing the drag on low-orbiting satellites.  This is both good and bad.  On the one hand, extra drag helps clear space junk out of Earth orbit.  On the other hand, it decreases the lifetime of useful satellites by bringing them closer to the day of re-entry.”

The solar storm was measured by the SABER instrument aboard the TIMED satellite. The link above provides graphics and a video.

The graphs below show the surge of infrared radiation that was dumped back into space by nitrous oxide (NO) and carbon dioxide.


Note on a previous NASA announcement:

My post: NASA Says Earth Is Entering A Cooling Period, featured an article from NASA which included the following statement: “Other important forcings of Earth’s climate system include such ‘variables’ as clouds, airborne particulate matter, and surface brightness. Each of these varying features of Earth’s environment has the capacity to exceed the warming influence of greenhouse gases and cause our world to cool.”

I and several others note that this page has disappeared from the NASA website, possibly because it was deemed  politically incorrect. Fortunately a screen shot was  preserved. I wonder if the primary NASA link to this post will survive political correctness.



  1. Oh WOW, so these charts show that the amount of energy coming in AND going out is not constant. It goes up and down. It probably even goes up and down according to how close we are to the sun!!! I would even bet that it is seasonal! So it causes global warming and cooling. and has done so for 4.5 Billion years. SO where exactly do we get morons claiming that we are approaching a tipping point that is irreversible?

  2. Jon, you say you, “rarely see NASA characterize carbon dioxide as a coolant”. Do you not understand that CO2 acts to both cool and warm? And it is the NET effect that is determinative. NASA “characterizes” CO2 as a coolant every time they quantify its effects. Look at the Radiative Transfer Equations.   JP

  3. quote:   Each of these varying features of Earth’s environment has the capacity to exceed the warming influence of greenhouse gases and cause our world to cool.” :unquote

    In all my readings of climate, I’ve never come across this fantay before. Just as CO2 reradiates some portion of the spectrum back to space, it also reradiates a portion of energy back to the earth’s surface at the earth’s surface.

    So what gives Jon? You have this degree in geology and follow the rules of it well to make your living at it from time to time, but you refuse to follow mainstream science in well studied overwhelming evidence of global warming. THis one is really grasping at straws.

    The satellites show that the artic sea extent is decreasing and that Greenland is accelerating in ice melt. Ice is the canary in the coal mine. 

    1. Once again you are confusing the fact of warming/cooling cycles with the cause of these changes.  I suggest you broaden your reading.

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