NWC REU 2020
May 26 - July 31



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Near Surface Meteorological Impacts Resulting from a Total Solar Eclipse

E'lysha D. Guererro and Bradley G. Illston


What is already known:

  • Temperature inversion may result in increased concentration of air pollutants at the lower layers of the atmosphere.
  • During the night there is often a temperature inversion with an increase of the temperature versus height since there is cooling of the Earth’s surface.
  • Solar eclipses induce early night fall due to the moon blockage of the sun.
  • Solar radiation and air temperatures decline during eclipse events.

What this study adds:

  • Correlation that connects solar eclipse events to temperature inversion episodes.
  • An investigation of how much the reduction of solar radiation during an eclipse, increases temperature inversion strengths.
  • Provides a time frame for when temperature inversion takes place during an eclipse.
  • The highest temperature inversion values overlap when the solar eclipse is at its highest point.
  • Provides awareness for at risk individuals due to air pollution densities increasing during the prime of the eclipse event.


Conducted research on America’s 21 August 2017 total solar eclipse revealed impacts on near surface meteorological variables, such as, solar radiation and temperature. The main goal is to quantify the reduction of solar radiation, the strength of temperature inversion, and locate when the maximum inversion transpires, during eclipse events. Considering temperature inversions have the tendency to increase pollution density, it is a call for health safety concerns. The Oklahoma Mesonet provided the observation data of two Oklahoma sites, Miami located at the North-East corner of Oklahoma, which was the most relatively close site to the 100% totality path and Hollis located at the South-West corner of Oklahoma with greater distance away from its relative 100% totality. Solar radiation, temperatures at 9-meters and 1.5- meters, UTC time, and dates ranging from 10 August 2017 to 31 August 2017, were stripped to administrate the research. The average of ten days before and after the 21 August 2017, rendered the theoretical values of what the typical 21 August 2017 would have been without the eclipse taking place. The theoretical values and observed data inserted into the percent error formula quantified the reduction of solar radiation and change of air temperatures at the eclipse maximum, where the eclipse is at its highest point in the sky. The difference between temperatures at 9-meters and 1.5-meters, are proportional to atmospheric lapse rates and temperature inversions. Another goal within this research, appraised five-minute versus one-minute data resolutions for the Miami station; with the objective: to find which temporal resolution is more efficient for future research in solar radiation and temperature variables. Numerical values were compared at the eclipse maximum to evaluate the efficiencies. The main research concluded, when decreasing the distance to 100% totality, there is an increase of: solar radiation percent error, total eclipse duration time and temperature inversion feedback. Furthermore, inversion maximum starts five-minutes before the solar eclipse maximum and ends five-minutes after. Where heavy pollution exists and individuals with elevated health risks are the spectators at the prime of an eclipse, the awareness may be crucial. The resolution results show minimal difference amongst five-minute and one-minute datasets, which means five-minute data resolutions are adequate for this type of analyses.

Full Paper [PDF]