Humans aren’t the only ones who are excited for the eclipse! Recently, scientists have worked on “adding in” the eclipse to the HRRR, a short range weather model, by modifying the amount of solar energy that enters the atmosphere (also known as influx). They traced out the moon’s shadow and made the influx to be zero along the path of totality. This is why Weather Service forecasters were able to say that temperature fluctuations were going to be somewhere between 5 and 15 degrees, depending upon cloud cover.
Let’s explore a little bit of the science as to why the way temperature increases and decreases due to solar energy. I do want to make mention that we are omitting other factors of temperature variation for this explanation.
It boils down to the concept of absorption: the more water a sponge absorbs, the heavier it gets. The same concept applies to the earth: the more solar energy the ground absorbs, the higher the temperature gets. However, not 100% of the incoming solar energy gets absorbed by the ground. About half of it gets absorbed or reflected by the atmosphere and clouds. When the sun comes up, the amount of solar energy increases throughout the day until the sun starts setting. This causes our temperature to increase. Once the sun sets, the moon rises and all that solar energy that was absorbed begins to radiate out. This causes our temperature to decrease.
You can read even more about the model it at NOAA’s site: https://eclipse2017.noaa.gov/
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