Scientists observe solar eclipse's effects on global weather

Scientists observe solar eclipse’s effects on global weather

When the Moon abruptly cuts off sunlight from Earth at a total solar eclipse, our weather reacts to the sudden darkness. A new issue of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, the oldest surviving scientific journal, deals with the effects of the March 20, 2015, eclipse.

Williams College professor Jay Pasachoff, former Fulbright visitor to Williams College Marcos Penaloza-Murillo, recent alumna Allison Carter ’16, and University of Michigan postdoc Michael Roman have an article in this theme issue of “Phil Trans A” discussing the effect measured.

solar eclipse's effects on global weather

Pasachoff and Carter had been on Svalbard, an Arctic archipelago controlled by Norway, for the eclipse. They had carried sensors for temperature and pressure borrowed from Williams College’s Jay Racela of the Center for Environmental Studies. The expedition to Svalbard was supported by a grant to Pasachoff from the Committee for Research and Exploration of the National Geographic Society.

The bulk of the theme issue was about the effect of the partial eclipse that was also visible from the U.K. The dimming of sunlight over the hour or so during the partial eclipse making its effects measurable. On Svalbard, for the total eclipse, the temperature and pressure automatic sensors found only slight effects, though a thermometer hanging from one of the camera tripods recorded a dip in temperature from the -13C to which the morning temperature had risen down to -21C a few minutes after the center of totality.

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