- Reaction score
2020 - Firenadoes
A space hurricane – complete with electron “rain” – has been detected in the Earth’s upper atmosphere for the first time, an international team of researchers has reported. With the requisite plasma and magnetic fields needed for such storms present in the atmospheres of planets across the universe, the researchers suggest that such phenomena should be commonplace.
The hurricanes with which we are more familiar form in the Earth’s lower atmosphere over warm bodies of water. As warm, moist air rises, it creates a pocket of low pressure near the ocean’s surface, which in turn sucks in the surrounding air, generating strong winds and creating clouds that lead eventually to heavy rainfall. As a result of the Coriolis effect, the inward rushing air is deflected on a circular path – forming the characteristic spiral shape of a tropical storm.
Hurricanes have also been spotted in the lower atmospheres of our neighbouring planets of Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, while similar phenomena – so-called “solar tornados” – have even been spotted churning the surface of the Sun. However, such swirling masses had never before been detected in the upper atmosphere of a planet.
The space hurricane in question was recorded above the North Pole, some several hundred kilometres up into the ionosphere, back in August 2014 by four satellites in the US Defense Meteorological Satellite Program. However, it was only revealed in the data by recent retrospective analysis led by researchers from China’s Shandong University.