UV solar irradiance low during recent solar minimum



Solar irradiance, which varies with the 11-year solar cycle and on longer time scales, can affect temperatures and winds in the atmosphere, influencing Earth's climate. As the Sun currently wakes up from a period of low sunspot activity, researchers want to know how irradiance during the recent solar minimum compares to historical levels. In addition to understanding the total received power, it is important to know how various spectral bands behave, in particular, the ultraviolet, which causes heating and winds in the stratosphere. Lockwood analyzed solar ultraviolet spectral irradiance data from May 2003 to August 2005 from both the Solar Ultraviolet Spectral Irradiance Monitor (SUSIM) instrument on board the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) and the Solar Stellar Irradiance Comparison Experiment (SOLSTICE) instrument on the Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment (SORCE) satellite. Using several different methods to intercalibrate the data, he developed a data composite that can be used to determine differences between the recent solar minimum and previous minima. The author found that solar irradiance during the recent sunspot minimum has been especially low. (Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres, doi:10.1029/2010JD014746, 2011)