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Earth Space Science

Global Warming Felt By Space Junk and Satellites 224

Posted by samzenpus
from the it's-getting-hot-in-here dept.
An anonymous reader writes in with a story about another side effect of increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. "Rising carbon dioxide levels at the edge of space are apparently reducing the pull that Earth's atmosphere has on satellites and space junk, researchers say. The findings suggest that man made increases in carbon dioxide might be having effects on the Earth that are larger than expected, scientists added... in the highest reaches of the atmosphere, carbon dioxide can actually have a cooling effect. The main effects of carbon dioxide up there come from its collisions with oxygen atoms. These impacts excite carbon dioxide molecules, making them radiate heat. The density of carbon dioxide is too thin above altitudes of about 30 miles (50 kilometers) for the molecules to recapture this heat. Cooling the upper atmosphere causes it to contract, exerting less drag on satellites."
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Global Warming Felt By Space Junk and Satellites

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  • Faulty headline (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 12, 2012 @06:14AM (#41955047)

    So global warming has nothing to do with it? It's all about the carbon dioxide buildup?

    • by approachingZero (1365381) on Monday November 12, 2012 @06:17AM (#41955061) Homepage
      Good insight. I didn't pick up on that. Heretic.
    • by Coisiche (2000870)

      It was a bad label in the first place. I wonder if whoever coined it even suspected that decades later people would still be quibbling about the semantics instead of the actual cause.

      • by Kokuyo (549451) on Monday November 12, 2012 @07:08AM (#41955199) Journal

        No, no, no... we are quibbling as much about the actual cause as we quibble about semantics... and if we can't quibble about those things, we'll quibble about the effects. And during all those shenanigans, we're playing the blame-game.

        You didn't really think this was about identifying and solving a problem, did you?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by tgd (2822)

          No, no, no... we are quibbling as much about the actual cause as we quibble about semantics... and if we can't quibble about those things, we'll quibble about the effects. And during all those shenanigans, we're playing the blame-game.

          You didn't really think this was about identifying and solving a problem, did you?

          Joe six-pack, politicians and the media are quibbling about those things. There aren't any scientists trained in relevant fields who are, about the cause, semantics, or effects unless they're doing so for money or a bizarre reaction to "publish-or-perish".

          • No, all the scientists who agree with me are correct/honest and the ones that don't are doing it for money or a bizarre reaction to "publish-or-perish".

            • by Genda (560240)

              How about just the vast majority... i.e. >99%

              That doesn't make them right, but it does make for a much stronger case than "Nuh Uh... that doesn't fit into my world view!

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 12, 2012 @06:48AM (#41955141)

      Because there's no extra heat coming in from the sun (indeed, slightly less), but because the CO2 is trapping heat in the lower atmosphere, the heat input to the upper atmosphere is reduced.

      And what happens when heat input is reduced?

      Cooling.

      What happens in the lower atmoshere, where the heat input is increased?

      Warming.

      Indeed, one of the fingerprints that shows it ISN'T the sun doing it is the cooling upper atmosphere: in a warming sun, the entire atmosphere is being warmed because the heat input and throughput is increased.

      Whereas the fingerprint of a greenhouse effect is that there is no extra input, but the throughput has changed.

      In other words, this is yet more evidence of AGW.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        ...

        In other words, this is yet more evidence of AGW.

        Umm, no.

        Strictly speaking, it's just evidence of more CO2 in the upper levels of Earth's atmosphere.

        Of course, you are free to leap to conclusions...

        • It isn't the CO2 in the upper levels of the atmosphere itself which causes the mentioned effect. It's the effect this upper-level CO2 has on temperatures up there.

          But this effect is part and parcel of the increased greenhouse effect. Increased greenhouse effect has two prominent effects on atmospheric temperature: warming the lower parts, and cooling the upper parts. It's just that you don't hear much about the latter part (well, unless you read sites like skepticalscience.com, where they point out it's a g

          • by Genda (560240)

            As well, the growing disparity between temperatures increases the chance that serious storms can occur. Storms are heat engines. Drive low level heat up you get bigger, wetter, stronger storms. If a really huge storm should punch a hole through the thermal division you now have a monster because you've now increase the temperature differential a hundred or more degrees. Read about hypercanes, or superstorms. The ultimate return to equilibrium could put world climate in a very different place and by definiti

    • by mangu (126918) on Monday November 12, 2012 @08:05AM (#41955351)

      So global warming has nothing to do with it? It's all about the carbon dioxide buildup?

      Why are you still trolling this bullshit?

      It's all about burning fossil fuels. This has many effects, of which global warming is the most dangerous to humans right now, but raising the dangers of space junk is another bad effect.

      What you are trying to imply is like saying cigarettes have nothing to do with lung cancer, because there are people who die of emphysema as well.

      Go away, oil industry shill!

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        Climate change! Is there nothing it can't do?

        • make people put down the sippy cup of bile and fucking think for once in their miserable lives. it can't do that, apparently.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by DiamondGeezer (872237)
        Please prove that the commenter was bribed by the oil industry, that there exists any attempt by oil industry companies and that any money is on the table. I want receipts, invoices or funding statements in company records. Otherwise you're just full of shit.
      • by Bigby (659157) on Monday November 12, 2012 @09:58AM (#41955781)

        No, he is saying something more like "lung cancer doesn't cause second hand smoke". Because the title would read something like:

        Lung Cancer Affects Health Of Those Around You

    • by gr8_phk (621180)

      So global warming has nothing to do with it? It's all about the carbon dioxide buildup?

      Yes. In fact the carbon dioxide in this case is causing a cooling of the atmosphere.
      FTFA:

      The main effects of carbon dioxide up there come from its collisions with oxygen atoms. These impacts excite carbon dioxide molecules, making them radiate heat. The density of carbon dioxide is too thin above altitudes of about 30 miles (50 kilometers) for the molecules to recapture this heat. Cooling the upper atmosphere causes it

  • I thought that CO2 was heavier than air, so there shouldn't be any of it in the upper atmosphere.
    (at least not the stuff emitted by burning carbon based stuff at ground level. There could be some Methane at high altitude that gets converted to CO2 by solar radiation., and maybe jet exhaust and large volcanic eruptions.

    • by aug24 (38229) on Monday November 12, 2012 @07:19AM (#41955237) Homepage
      Even if it is heavier stochastic processes will push a proportion of it up. Increase the total proportion and the proportion at high altitudes will increase.
    • When 2 liquids can dissolve with each other the weight of the molecules is pretty irrelevant. How do you think alcohol and water mix when water is so much denser? You don't see the alcohol sink to the bottom in a wine bottle left for decades for example.

      • by fatphil (181876) on Monday November 12, 2012 @10:06AM (#41955831) Homepage
        Liquids and gasses are very different beasts. One has enough intermolecular forces to bind the molecules into an effectively incompressible mass, the other hasn't, and has components that only interact with each other through random collisions. You're comparing apples to class III orange stars.
        • by Viol8 (599362)

          Liquids and gases are both fluids. If the weight of the molecules in a mixed gas made any different then earths and every other planets atmosphere would have seperated out into layers billions of years ago.

          • by fatphil (181876)
            Fluidity is irrelevant. Intramolecular forces are relevant. Liquids have them. Gases pretty much don't.

            For ideal gases, free of intermolecular attractions, what's really most relevant is molecular speed, but (mean) speed is inversely proportional to sqrt(molecular weight). Therefore molecular weight *is* important. And for most of the atmosphere by volume, density is so low that intra-molecular attractive forces are indeed negligible, and so in the largest part of the atmosphere the gases do indeed behave l
    • by cryptolemur (1247988) on Monday November 12, 2012 @08:04AM (#41955347)
      You are right, and we have all suffocated!! Or, maybe you are not right...
      • by berashith (222128)

        slow clap for this one!

      • by You're All Wrong (573825) on Monday November 12, 2012 @11:04AM (#41956239)
        Nice, but simplifying matters, and perhaps misleading. Gasses of different densities are *perfectly* happy to settle out. It's only the continual stirring of things like what we locally call weather that makes them mostly homogeneous in the layer above the earth's surface most of us experience. The words "homosphere" and "heterosphere" thus got their names. I can't do better than wackypedia, so I'll just lift the pertinent section:
        """
        Above the turbopause at about 100 km (62 mi; 330,000 ft) (essentially corresponding to the mesopause), the composition varies with altitude. This is because the distance that particles can move without colliding with one another is large compared with the size of motions that cause mixing. This allows the gases to stratify by molecular weight, with the heavier ones such as oxygen and nitrogen present only near the bottom of the heterosphere. The upper part of the heterosphere is composed almost completely of hydrogen, the lightest element.
        """

        The reason we do not suffocate is not because gases do not separate out, it is because we have not just a source of O2 and a sink of CO2, but also constant stirring.
        • Yup, that is one of the reasons why the sky is blue. The ozone likes to settle in a layer up there.
    • by jbengt (874751)
      FYI, CO2 gets up there up by mixing (wind, turbulence, & diffusion); but since it's heavier than N2 & O2, CO2 is a lesser percentage of air at higher altitudes than at lower altitudes.
  • by Viol8 (599362) on Monday November 12, 2012 @07:51AM (#41955301)

    They have a global warming potential thousands of times higher than CO2 and are being released into the atmosphere in large quantities. HCFCs replaced CFCs because they don't react with ozone so don't destroy the ozone layer. The downside of that is they don't react with ANYTHING in the atmosphere so no one has an idea how they will ever be removed. This is a potentially major issue which isn't being taken seriously enough.

  • Rising carbon dioxide levels at the edge of space are apparently reducing the pull

    Isn't it more of a push?

  • So... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 12, 2012 @09:56AM (#41955767)

    ...the sky is literally falling

If God is perfect, why did He create discontinuous functions?

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