Looking for answers when it comes to extreme weather

6:14 PM, Nov 29, 2013   |    comments
The sun over the News10 parking lot. Photo by Ian Hill.
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SACRAMENTO - Fall has started off dry and warm. On Thanksgiving, Sacramento hit record highs and we are still on track to be the driest year on record. Many people are wondering what is causing such extreme conditions.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is hoping to get some answers to our changing weather patterns through space exploration. They launched the Total solar irradiance Calibration Transfer Experiment (TCTE) earlier this month. This instrument is designed to measure the total energy output of the sun. The information received could help scientists understand the sun's influence on Earth's climate.

Earth's primary energy source for climate is sunlight. Understanding how much influence this sunlight has can help determine if solar changes directly affect Earth's climate.

Solar irradiance recording began in 1978. The most recent instrument has been in place since 2003 and is nearing the end of its battery life. The new TCTE will replace the previous instrument but is only an interim solution in an effort to provide continuous recording. A future measurement mission will deliver the Total Solar Irradiance Sensor (TSIS), but this launch date hasn't been determined yet.

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