Watch as this NASA animation shows the sun blasting out a giant explosion of magnetic energy called a coronal mass ejection and the Earth being shielded from this by its powerful magnetic field. The sun also continuously showers the Earth with light and radiation energy. Much of this solar energy is deflected by the Earth’s atmosphere or reflected back into space by clouds, ice and snow. What gets through becomes the energy that drives the Earth system, powering a remarkable planetary engine — the climate.
The unevenness of this solar heating, the cycles of day and night, and our seasons are part of what cause wind currents to circulate around the word. These winds drive surface ocean currents and in this animation you can view these currents flowing off the coast of Florida.
This animation connects for the first time a series of computer models. The view of the sun and the Earth’s magnetic field comes from the Luhmann-Friesen magnetic field model and two models that incorporated data from a real coronal mass ejection from the sun on December 2006.
NASA’s Community Coordinated Modeling Center (CCMC) at Goddard Space Flight Center, a multi-agency partnership that provides information on space weather to the international research community, generated these two models. The ENLIL model is a time-dependent 3-D magnetohydrodynamic model of the heliosphere and shows changes in the particles flows and magnetic fields.
The BATS-R-US model is also a magnetohydrodynamic model of plasma from solar wind moving through the Earth’s magnetic dipole field. It uses measurements of solar wind density, velocity, temperature and magnetic field by NASA’s Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) satellite, which launched in August of 1997 and the Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO), two satellites that view the structure and evolution of solar storms.
The view of the Earth’s atmosphere comes from the Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA), a computer model that uses data from the Goddard Earth Observing System Data Assimilation System Version 5 (GEOS-5) and incorporates information gathered from ground stations, operational satellites and NASA’s Earth-observing fleet of satellites. The model for the ocean is the Estimating the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean, Phase II (ECCO2), a joint project of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass. and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Ca.