Archive for the ‘Solar science’ Category

Asymmetric reversal of the Sun’s magnetic field is under way – NASA

August 6, 2013

The sun’s magnetic field reverses roughly every 11 years at solar maximum. We are now approaching solar maximum of solar cycle 24 (SC 24) but this magnetic reversal is strongly assymetric according to NASA:

“The sun’s north pole has already changed sign, while the south pole is racing to catch up,” says Scherrer. Soon, however, both poles will be reversed, and the second half of Solar Max will be underway.”

The North pole of the sun switched polarity in mid-2012 which seemed early at the time since solar maximum was not expected till the fall of 2013. It is difficult to imagine that there will not be consequences for the Earth but what those consequences might be is not a “settled science”.

Certainly geomagnetic reversals on Earth have more to do with the flow patterns in the earth’s liquid core and have quite different time periods. The time span between geomagnetic reversals on the Earth vary between 0.1 and 1 million years with an average of 450,000 years.

The latest one, the Brunhes–Matuyama reversal, occurred 780,000 years ago. However,a study published in 2012 by a group from the German Research Center for Geosciences suggests that a brief complete reversal occurred only 41,000 years ago during the last glacial period. The reversal lasted only about 440 years with the actual change of polarity lasting around 250 years.

From Dr. Leif Svalgaard’s research page:

Solar magnetic reversal cycle

The NASA press release says:

August 5, 2013:  Something big is about to happen on the sun.  According to measurements from NASA-supported observatories, the sun’s vast magnetic field is about to flip.

“It looks like we’re no more than 3 to 4 months away from a complete field reversal,” says solar physicist Todd Hoeksema of Stanford University. “This change will have ripple effects throughout the solar system.”

(more…)

Solar Cycle 24 double peak now clearly evident

May 9, 2013

Already in March there were signs that this Solar Cycle 24 would exibit a double peak. NASA’s latest sunspot prediction for Solar Cycle 24 as of 1st May 2013 clearly shows that the sunspot activity is into its “double peak for this Cycle. A double peak was also evident in Cycles 22 and 23 and also in Cycles 5 and 14. The levels for SC24 are still going to be the lowest for 100 years and predictions for SC 25 are that they will be even lower still. Most second peaks have been somewhat smaller than the first – though not in SC5 – and seem to add around 6 months to the cycle time.

If this is indeed a double peak then I expect that solar maximum will perhaps be a few months delayed from the NASA prediction of Fall 2013. End 2013 now seems more likely.

SC24 may 2013

The Dalton minimum spanned Solar Cycles 5 and 6 from 1790 to 1820.  The Maunder Minimum from 1645 to 1715 preceded the numbering of Solar Cycles (Solar Cycle 1 started in 1755). The likelihood that SC 24 and 25 may be similar to SC 5 and 6 is growing and so is the likelihood that we will see 2  - 3 decades of global cooling. It is more likely that for the next 20- 30 years this Landscheidt Minimum will resemble the Dalton Minimum period, but if SC25 is a very small cycle then we may even approach the conditions of the Little Ice Age during the Maunder Minimum. Landscheidt’s prediction was that this minimum would last from 2000 to 2060 and the global temperature stand-still for the last 15 years gives greater credence to his forecasts.

NASA: The Sunspot Cycle –

The Maunder Minimum

Early records of sunspots indicate that the Sun went through a period of inactivity in the late 17th century. Very few sunspots were seen on the Sun from about 1645 to 1715 (38 kb JPEG image). Although the observations were not as extensive as in later years, the Sun was in fact well observed during this time and this lack of sunspots is well documented. This period of solar inactivity also corresponds to a climatic period called the “Little Ice Age” when rivers that are normally ice-free froze and snow fields remained year-round at lower altitudes. There is evidence that the Sun has had similar periods of inactivity in the more distant past. The connection between solar activity and terrestrial climate is an area of on-going research.

The climate is a-changin

April 20, 2013

The winds of climate are changing direction – again.

Forty years ago “climate scientists” were sure we were entering a new ice age and even that we could have triggered the end of the current inter-glacial.

For forty years we have seen the growth of the global warming meme and the demonisation of carbon dioxide and of all things “fossil”.

A new economy based on the expensive and premature cessation of the use of fossil fuels took shape. All alternatives to fossil fuel – no matter how expensive or impractical – were worthy of subsidy. By invoking a connection to global warming any science project could attract funds. A fascist and authoritarian “environmental” politics gained ground.  The politicians had a new “label” for introducing taxation in the name of controlling climate (!). Vast new revenue streams of taxes and subsidies and carbon credits were created in the name of protecting the planet. In fact the penalty for not being “politically correct” on climate was seen as being so disadvantageous that every product – from toothpaste to children’s toys to aircraft and weapons – had to show that it was “climate-smart”. Meaningless new parameters like “carbon footprint” entered the vocabulary. No self-respecting newspaper or scientist or politician or business could afford to be heretical with respect to the new religion of the day.

But the Earth and the Sun and the resulting climate pay little attention to the puny efforts of man and dance to their own music. When an ice age is to come it will come and when the ice sheets are to retreat the earth will warm and humanity’s best option is to adapt to the changes as they come. If we understand anything about the Sun and its cycles, an ice age will surely come – whether in 10 or 10,000 years.  And we should concentrate on having the wherewithal to cope when it does. To attempt to control the climate has more than a hint of arrogance. We might as well try to ask the Sun to shine a little less brightly or for a little longer!

But for the last 17 years (or 12 or 18 depending upon how religious one is) global warming has stalled. Now vast amounts of a “new” fossil fuel – shale gas –  have been discovered and its utilisation is changing the economic landscape. “Global warming” was renamed to be “climate change”. The money making (for some) revenue schemes and subsidy-milking for unnecessary and expensive renewable energy have been revealed for the scams they are. Heretical views are being expressed again.

The climate winds are changing:

  1. The Great Green Con no. 1: The hard proof that finally shows global warming forecasts that are costing you billions were WRONG all along   
  2. A sensitive matter
  3. Spiegel Stops Believing…”Hot Debate Over Climate: How Reliable Are The Prognoses?” Growing Doubts Over Models! 

  4. Global warming: time to rein back on doom and gloom?
  5. Climate scientists struggle to explain warming slowdown 

  6. Mother Of German Green Weeklies, Die Zeit, Shocks Readers…Now Casts Doubt On Global Warming!

Could solar flare last week be linked to two major earthquakes yesterday?

April 17, 2013

Like primitive man I am overwhelmed by the power of the Sun and a firm believer that even minute solar effects can have a major effect on the Earth and its systems. (I also note that my deification of the Sun must be similar to that by our ancient ancestors and is probably not unconnected to my moving to Scandinavia). In any case I am convinced that for climate

“Solar effects are much more profound than many so-called climate scientists like to admit”,

but I am not sure how strong the link to earthquakes is.

The link between solar effects (radio flux, sunspots, magnetic reversals, proton events….) and volcano activity and earthquakes has been postulated and studied many times but if any such link does exist it is not something obvious and it is by unknown mechanisms. For some this search for such a link is not “science” and there is no link. For others it can be a lifetime’s quest. But “intuition” and “gut-feeling” keeps me believing that there must be a connection. It could well be that the build-up of stresses upto some “breaking point” within the earths crust are a result of ongoing geologic processes and do not need any external trigger like solar activity or the position of the planets to be unleashed. But even continental drift and the build-up of seismic or volcanic stresses are all – ultimately – driven by energy fluxes. And all energy fluxes on Earth can eventually be traced to the Sun (except perhaps if the energy is from any ongoing nuclear reactions in the Earth’s core).

There were two major earthquakes yesterday USGS

  1. 6.6, 23km ESE of Aitape, Papua New Guinea, 2013-04-16 22:55:27 UTC, 13.0 km deep
  2. 7.8, 83km E of Khash, Iran, 2013-04-16 10:44:20 UTC, 82.0 km deep

And – I note in passing – on April 11th – 5 days ago there was a solar flare and a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) event. Could be just a coincidence of course – but perhaps not …

Discovery News: APR 11, 2013 03:00 PM ET

The sun has unleashed the biggest solar flare of the year, quickly followed by an Earth-directed coronal mass ejection (CME). Both phenomena have the potential to impact communications and electronics on Earth and in orbit.

Although the sun is currently experiencing “solar maximum” — the culmination of its approximate 11-year cycle — scientists have noted that this particular maximum is a lot quieter than predicted. At this time, the sun should be bubbling with violent active regions, exhibiting sunspots, popping off flares and ejecting CMEs. But so far, the sun seems to be taking it relatively easy.

This morning (at 0716 UT), active region (AR) 1719 erupted with an M-class flare. With a rating of M6.5, this event is the most energetic flare of 2013 (although it’s a lot less impressive than 2012′s X-class fireworks). What’s more, the site of the explosion unleashed a CME in our direction.

A CME is a magnetic ‘bubble’ containing high-energy solar particles. When the CME hits Earth’s global magnetic field, it may align just right to generate a geomagnetic storm. Should this happen, we’ll be able to measure the extreme magnetic distortion of the magnetosphere and bright aurorae at high latitudes may result. Aurorae are caused when solar particles are injected into the polar regions via the Earth’s magnetic field — the particles then collide with atmospheric gases, generating a beautiful light display.

This morning’s CME was clocked traveling at a breakneck speed of 600 miles per second — at that rate it should hit Earth in the early hours of Saturday morning (April 13).

Shortly after the M-class flare erupted, a weak solar energetic particle (SEP) event was detected. This “radiation storm” was the result of relativistic particles slamming into the Earth’s upper atmosphere originating from the flare site.

Image: NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured this image of an M6.5 class flare at 3:16 EDT on April 11, 2013. This image shows a combination of light in wavelengths of 131 and 171 Angstroms. Credit: NASA/SDO

Idiot science? Urban vegetation decreases violent crime but not theft!

April 6, 2013

Correlation and causation again! Correlation does not necessarily mean causation and even real causation may not give any correlation.

The authors are from the Department of Geography and Urban Studies, Temple University, United States. And they get paid for this?

Does vegetation encourage or suppress urban crime? Evidence from Philadelphia, PA, Mary K. Wolfe and Jeremy Mennis, Landscape and Urban Planning, Volume 108, Issues 2–4, November–December 2012, Pages 112–122, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.landurbplan.2012.08.006

(emphasis added)

AbstractThere is longstanding belief that vegetation encourages crime as it can conceal criminal activity. Other studies, however, have shown that urban residential areas with well-maintained vegetation experience lower rates of certain crime types due to increased surveillance in vegetated spaces as well as the therapeutic effects ascribed to vegetated landscapes. The present research analyzes the association of vegetation with crime in a case study of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. We examine rates of assaults, robberies, burglaries, and thefts in relation to remotely sensed vegetation abundance at the Census tract level. We employ choropleth mapping, correlation, ordinary least squares regression, and spatial econometric modeling to examine the influence of vegetation on various crime types while controlling for tract-level socioeconomic indicators. Results indicate that vegetation abundance is significantly associated with lower rates of assault, robbery, and burglary, but not theft. This research has implications for urban planning policy, especially as cities are moving towards ‘green’ growth plans and must look to incorporate sustainable methods of crime prevention into city planning.

And Discover Magazine comments (comments?)

The explanation, the authors say, is twofold: One, green spaces encourage people to spend more time socially outdoors, which discourages crime. It’s especially helpful for crime control when young and old people mix together in public places. And two, the presence of plants has a therapeutic effect. Vegetation decreases mental fatigue and its associated symptoms, such as irritability and decreased impulse control, both considered to be precursors to violence.

This “plant therapy” mechanism is bolstered by the Philadelphia findings. The most violent of the crimes studied, aggravated assault, was most strongly correlated with a neighborhood’s degree of greenness, while the least violent crime, theft, showed no association. This could indicate that it’s a violent mentality itself that green spaces are discouraging.

That hypothesis needs further study.

And that last line is the giveaway.

No, every idiot hypothesis does not need further study! 

Does the solar cycle impact the global economic cycle?

April 2, 2013

That weather and climate are affected by solar cycles is highly likely even if it is not part of the mainstream climate theories (though I think it is patently obvious). That climate and weather affect food production is clear and that this must impact the economic cycle is not so far fetched. Yet it has never been part of mainstream economic thinking that there will be a connection from the solar cycle to global economic cycles. Back in 1801 William Herschel observed the apparent connection between the sunspot cycles and the price of wheat. Since then many economists have returned at regular intervals to studying the link between the 11 year sunspot cycle and the behaviour of the global economic cycle. It is becoming increasingly clear that the economic cycle is not unconnected with solar cycles but the mechanisms are far from clear.

Mikhail Gorbanev an economist at the IMF has a fascinating new paper that became available last month at the University of Munich. He does add this Caution though!

Caution: This research is not in the “mainstream” of the economic thought. Read at your own risk!

Sunspots, unemployment, and recessions, or Can the solar activity cycle shape the business cycle?,” MPRA Paper 40271, University Library of Munich, Germany. (pdf Gorbanev Business Cycle and solar cycles MPRA_paper_40271)

Gorbanev shows some interesting correlations and  goes on to predict that “For other advanced economies, the upcoming solar maximum also suggests higher chances of recessions. The 3-year period when the recessions are most likely to occur in the G7 countries would run from early 2013 till end-2015″.

Whether there will be a sharp increase in US unemployment after the solar maximum remains to be seen. But it is not so unlikely that the world economy has another 2 – 3 tough years ahead!

 

Sunspot cycles and US unemployment (Gorbanev 2012)

Sunspot cycles and US unemployment (Gorbanev 2012)

Abstract 

 Over the last 77 years (from 1935), all 7 cyclical maximums of the solar activity overlapped closely with the US recessions, thus predicting (or triggering?) 8 out of 13 recessions officially identified by NBER (including one “double-deep” recession). Over the last 64 years (from 1948), all 6 maximums of the solar activity were preceded by minimums of the US unemployment rate, and the spikes in the unemployment rate followed with lags of 2-3 years. On the world scale, over the last 44 years (for which the data is available), all 4 maximums of the solar activity overlapped with minimums of the unemployment rate in the G7 countries, followed by its spikes within 2-3 years. From 1965, when consistent recession dating is available for all G7 countries, nearly 3/5 of the recessions started in the 3 years around and after the sunspot maximums. Was it a mere coincidence or a part of a broader pattern? This paper explores the correlation between the solar activity cycles (as measured by the number of sunspots on the sun surface) and the timing of recessions in the US and other economies. It finds out that the probability of recessions in G7 countries greatly increased around and after the solar maximums, suggesting that they can cause deterioration in business conditions and trigger recessions. This opens new approach for projecting recessions, which can be applied and tested with regard to the next solar maximum in 2013.

Prof. Peter A. Ziegler: Solar effects drive climate change not CO2

March 14, 2013
Peter Ziegler

Peter Ziegler: image The Geological Society

Prof. Peter Ziegler (b. 1928) is a Swiss geologist  and Titular Professor of Global Geology at the Geological-Paleontological Institute, University of Basel. He is a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences, the Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences and the Academia Europaea. His presentation on the “Mechanisms of Climate Change” from February this year is pretty self-contained and self explanatory and my comments would only be superfluous.

Climate Change Ziegler 2013 (pdf)

I reproduce his conclusions slide below:

  • Climate change during industrial times can be fully explained by natural processes
  • During the last 550 Million years major natural climate changes involved large fluctuations in temperature and atmospheric CO2 concentrations
  • Apart from orbital forcing and the distribution of continents and oceans, variations in solar activity and the galactic cosmic ray flux controlled climate changes during the geological past and probably still do so
  • Despite rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations we may experience during the coming decades a serious temperature decline akin to the Maunder Minimum due to decreasing solar activity
  • There is overwhelming evidence that Temperature forces the Carbon Cycle and not vice-versa, as postulated by IPCC
  • IPCC underestimates the effects of direct and indirect solar climate forcing but overestimates CO2 forcing by assuming unrealistic positive temperature feedbacks from a concomitant water vapor and cloud increase
  • The IPCC consensus on anthropogenic CO2 emissions causing Global Warming cannot be reconciled with basic data and is therefore challenged

Double peak in Solar Cycle 24? as in SC14 and in SC5?

March 4, 2013

The NOAA/NASA Solar Cycle Prediction Panel is puzzled. They don’t know if we are reaching solar maximum or whether another little peak could be on its way which would shift solar maximum for SC24 to 2014 from 2013.

And should we compare SC24 with SC14 or should it be SC5?

But SC24 will still show the lowest sunspot activity for 100 years. I note that not only SC14 but even SC5 had a double peak – so my expectation remains that this Landscheidt Minimum may be comparable to the Dalton Minimum – though not perhaps to the Maunder Minimum.

credit Dr. Tony Phillips

credit Dr. Tony Phillips

This Sciencecast video is a good summary of what we don’t know:

Landscheidt’s prediction is that this Minimum will last till 2060 so we can expect low sunspot activity for the next 4 sunspot cycles (till SC28).

Landscheidt’s predicted solar minima

The Sc24 –  SC5 comparison looks like a repeating pattern but it would be wrong to assume that the Sun cares about this and it will surely continue to keep us perplexed as it does its own thing.

SC24 compared to SC5

The Big Picture is persuasive – even if we don’t really know what the sun is upto and even less about how the Earth dances to the Sun’s music.

Recent solar activity (Wikipedia) showing the Maunder and Dalton minima

Related:

Solar cycles and the Landscheidt minimum

Theodor landscheidt: Sun-Earth-Man and the Kepler ratios

Solar Cycle 24 will be the smallest sunspot cycle since 1906 (SC 14)

January 5, 2013

The January 2013 NASA forecast for the development of Solar Cycle 24 is out.

sc 24 prediction January 2013

SC 24 prediction Jan 2013 – Hathaway -NASA

The current prediction for Sunspot Cycle 24 gives a smoothed sunspot number maximum of about 69 in the Fall of 2013. The smoothed sunspot number has already reached 67 (in February 2012)due to the strong peak in late 2011 so the official maximum will be at least this high and this late. We are currently over four years into Cycle 24. The current predicted and observed size makes this the smallest sunspot cycle since Cycle 14 which had a maximum of 64.2 in February of 1906.

With sunspot activity at this low level the planet will cool. It remains to be seen whether this is the start of something like a Dalton Minimum (SC5 and 6) or even a Maunder Minimum. This cooling has begun and global temperatures peaked about 16 years ago and are now declining slightly while carbon dioxide concentration continues to increase. It is only a matter of time before the belief that carbon dioxide concentration (whether man-made or not) causes global warming will have to be completely discarded. But there is so much money now riding on this belief (and even though there is only conjecture and no direct evidence for this belief), that we will likely see a decade or more of rationalisation of reality before the belief is abandoned.

SC24 compared to SC5 in 2011 is shown below:

SC24 compared to SC5

One day the Sun will die, but till then – Dies Natalis Solis Invicti MMXII

December 24, 2012

Here at a latitude of 58.7057° N, the Sun is eagerly awaited every day and is sorely missed if it is obscured by clouds during our short days at this time of year.

Sol Invictus is not a matter of faith or belief. It is a daily reality.

The 21st of December was the shortest day of the year with sunrise at 0848 and sunset at 1503. But it has come and gone and the days are getting longer again. I can start my countdown to summer.

The renewal begins.

It is not difficult to imagine how worship of the Sun must have started at least 20,000 years ago and perhaps as early as 100,000 years ago. In fact it seems obvious that our understanding of periodicity and the very concept of time must have started with what we observed of the Sun. The counting of days and the inevitability of the seasons and the development of a calendar all originate with the unfailing appearance of the Sun every day. Perhaps the periodicity of the daily Sun even accounts for humans developing the very notion of counting and numbers. And it is more than mere speculation to assume that even the great expansion of humanity from Africarabia around 100,000 years ago was to no little extent guided into directions defined relative to the rising or the setting of the Sun.

One day – some 5 billion years hence – the Sun will have consumed all its hydrogen, will become a red giant and will swallow the earth. The earth will truly and inevitably die then.  Over the following one billion years or so the Sun will be consuming its helium and become a white dwarf.  And then the exhausted Sun – will cool and perhaps in 1000 billion years will be at the same temperature as that of surrounding space and will become a black dwarf  -  well and truly dead.

Long before then, perhaps in about one billion years from now, the energy output of the Sun will rise by about 10% and there will be no water left in our atmosphere. As the Sun’s energy output increases further, our rivers and lakes and oceans will all boil dry and the earth will be finally devoid of water. If humanity is still present on earth when free water disappears then it too – with all other species on earth – will die. But humanity – along with many other Earthly species – may well have moved elsewhere by then.

But for at least the next 0ne billion years we can continue to revel and bask in our invincible Sun.

In Vedic terms “Surya is the eye of Mitra, Varuna and Agni” where Surya, the Sun, is the “all-powerful life-giving force” with Mitra representing “all that happens with openness in the daylight” while Varuna lords “over the powers of the dark when Surya is not visible”. Agni (ignis in Latin) is of course fire and is the earthly manifestation of the Sun

So, in celebration of the annual renewal to come I send my greetings to all in the name of the invincible Sun.

(The picture this year is a blow-up of the banner for this blog and is of a sunrise, looking East, on a December morning in 2010).

sol invictus 2012


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