Simulation of the August 21, 2017 Solar Eclipse using the Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model—eXtended

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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Joseph McInerney and others, use a computer model called the Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model - eXtended (WACCM-X v. 2.0) to investigate what happens to the atmosphere from the surface of Earth up to space during the “Great American Eclipse” of 21 August 2017. During the eclipse, for a location in the path of totality, the model produces different changes in temperature from the ground up to hundreds of kilometers, with the largest decrease in temperature around 250 kilometers.

Temperature differences image
Temperature differences between the eclipse and baseline simulations as a function of UT and altitude at a latitude of 38.84 degrees north and a longitude of 95 degrees west for the entire model vertical range up to 600 kilometers (left) and up to 100 kilometers (right).

Also, at this altitude, the electron density of the ionosphere decreases by about 45% during the eclipse. Later on during the day of the eclipse, we see changes not only near the eclipse path, but all over the world. The chemistry in the atmosphere is also affected by the eclipse, especially an increase ozone in the middle atmosphere. Finally, changes that happen in the lower atmosphere affect what happens in space after the eclipse is over. This study helps us to understand how an eclipse can affect both the atmosphere and ionosphere, and how these changes are coupled together.

Publication Name: Geophysical Research Letters