He Atacama Desert It is one of the driest places in the world (few places are less hospitable than this) and an ideal location for many of the best and largest telescopes in the world due to favorable conditions for astronomical observation such as lack of light pollution, high altitude, low cloud cover or almost complete absence of radio interference. However, A new study has added another record to the area, namely that the Altiplano in the same desert is officially the sunniest place on Earth. After Tibet, it is the highest plateau on the planet with an average height of 3750 meters.
Comparable to the solar intensity of Venus
There is no place on Earth more tanned than the Altiplano.. Off the west coast of South America is a large plain near the Andes, the Altiplano of the Atacama Desert. This is usually a cold and dry place on Earth, located at an altitude of more than 4000 meters above sea level, also receives more sunlight than anywhere else on the planet, even in places closer to the equator. or which have a higher elevation. Scientists even compare it to being on the planet Venus (if you were there, you would get as much ultraviolet light as on Venus). The area is also known for its cloudless skies and low levels of ozone, aerosols and water vapor.
To make sure the satellite records are accurate, in 2016 scientists built an atmospheric observatory on the northwestern edge of Chainantor Plateau in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile.
Guided Analysis University of Santiago showed that this place in the Atacama Desert is the sunniest place on Earth because it has the clearest conditions. It is quite logical that such an arid region would receive more sunlight than it should. On average, the region receives about 308 watts of shortwave radiation. (daylight) per square meter almost twice as much as in Central Europe and is the highest in the world.
In addition, the sunlight on the Altiplano becomes incredibly intense during cloud break. reaching up to 2177 W per square meter, according to the observatory, a record that occurred during a summer solar flare in January 2017. This intensity is comparable to sunlight at a distance of about 0.79 astronomical units from the Sun.
In their study, the scientists published a five-year data set recorded at an observatory on the northwestern edge of the Chainantor Plateau, at an altitude of 5,418 meters above sea level. They found that the plateau has not only the highest level of horizontal shortwave radiation in the world, but also other interesting features, such as cloud scattering phenomena that cause intense bursts of sunlight that only increase the amount of sunlight reaching the surface. Clouds usually block sunlight and reflect the light back into space. However, under certain conditions, clouds can have the opposite effect, instead focusing the sun’s rays on the surface like a magnifying glass. This is exactly what happens on the Altiplano, where broken clouds as cirrus or cirrostratus, which cover a minimal part of the sky, they cause this effect.
Although Mercury is closer to the SunVenus is the hottest planet in our solar system because its super-dense atmosphere traps heat like a greenhouse, raising its temperature to the point where it can melt lead. Logically, the Atacama Desert is not Venus, but the intensity of sunlight it receives is comparable, according to scientists who publish their work in the journal. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS). The conditions are so extreme that they have not been seen anywhere else on the planet.
Cordero, R. R., et al., 2023: Surface solar extremes in Earth’s most irradiated region, the Altiplano. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS), 104, E1206–E1221, https://doi.org/10.1175/BAMS-D-22-0215.1.