Calculated and observed climate change in the thermosphere, and a prediction for solar cycle 24

Liying Qian, Raymond G. Roble, Stanley C. Solomon, Timothy J. Kane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


The long-term change of thermospheric neutral density has been investigated using satellite drag measurements and through sensitivity studies using upper atmosphere general circulation models. The magnitude of the change has been quantified in both approaches, and the source of the secular change attributed to the concentration changes of greenhouse gases. In this study, we use CO2 concentration measured at Mauna Loa Observatory and solar variation based on a proxy model to calculate the secular change of thermosphere neutral density for the last three decades, using a global mean upper atmosphere model. Our results show that the average density decrease at 400 km from 1970 to 2000 is 1.7% per decade. To quantify the impact of solar activity on the secular change of neutral density, we also calculated the long-term density change under solar minimum and solar maximum conditions for the same time period. The average trends at 350 km and 450 km are 2.2% per decade and 2.9% per decade for solar minimum conditions, while at solar maximum, they are 0.7% per decade and 0.8% per decade, respectively. These model results are compared to estimates of thermosphere density change derived from satellite drag observations, showing good agreement. In addition, based on a recent forecast of the intensity of solar cycle 24, we predict that the long-term change of thermospheric neutral density from 2006 to the end of solar cycle 24 will be ∼2.7% per decade at 400 km.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL23705
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 16 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'Calculated and observed climate change in the thermosphere, and a prediction for solar cycle 24'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this