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Wednesday, March 28,2012

Solar Eclipses Can (Slightly) Change Weather on Earth

The inky shadows of solar eclipses can alter local weather on small scales, according to new analysis of a 1999 total eclipse.

Solar eclipses occur when the moon slips between Earth and the sun, causing a huge shadow to glide across our planet's surface. (See pictures from a January 2011 solar eclipse.)

Meteorologists knew an eclipse could lower temperatures within this shadow by as much as 5 degrees Fahrenheit (3 degrees Celsius). But they couldn't confirm anecdotal reports of changes in wind speed and direction linked to the astronomical events.

"This story goes back to 1901, when a guy named H. Helm Clayton thought he saw a change in the wind directions on account of the eclipse," said atmospheric physicist Giles Harrison of the University of Reading in the U.K.


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