Guest essay by Robert Johnson
How plasma connects the Sun to the climate
The Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) are a plasma phenomenon caused by charged particles from the solar wind entering the Earth’s upper atmosphere. Magnetic storms in the ionosphere, which have occasionally damaged satellites in orbit, are also evidence that the Earth’s upper atmosphere is electromagnetically connected to the Sun via the plasma in interplanetary space.
It’s recently been recognised that the atmosphere below the ionosphere is also a weak plasma due to the ionisation caused primarily by cosmic rays. So it’s plasma all the way down! The weather regions are directly connected to the Sun; even the air we breathe is all part of the same system.
This talk at the recent SIS meeting introduces plasma to the general reader and investigates how it enables variations in the Sun’s output to directly influence the weather systems here on Earth.
Here are the links to the text + slides on google drive; there are two size options with differing picture quality available to view and/or download. Apart from that, they’re identical.