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Earth's magnetic field is important for climate change at high altitudes

23 May 2014

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New research has provided scientists with greater insight into the climatic changes happening in the upper atmosphere. Scientists found that changes in the Earth's magnetic field are more relevant for climatic changes in the upper atmosphere (about 100-500 km above the surface) than previously thought. Understanding the cause of long-term change in this area helps scientists to predict what will happen in the future. This has key implications for life back on Earth.

A good understanding of the long-term behaviour of the upper atmosphere is essential; it affects a lot of satellite-based technology, such as global navigation systems and high-frequency radio communication systems. Some satellites even operate within the upper atmosphere itself.

The increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration has been thought to be the main cause of climatic changes at these high altitudes. This study suggests that magnetic field changes that have taken place over the past century are as important.

Source: British Antarctic Survey (BAS)

Image credit: BAS - Layers of the atmosphere