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Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

01/31/2009 7:32 PM

So I was talking to one of my old Ham radio buddies and he was crying about the current solar cycle being "in hibernation." I took a look at SSNe (effective sunspot number) and TSI Total solar irradiance data and I thought I'd ask if any one on CR4 can give me (us) a brief introduction to the subject.

One of the amateur astronomer folks I talked to told me that the lack of solar activity was responsible for more cosmic rays, which meant more reflective clouds which meant upset 'thermal equilibrium' (which correlates with what's been going on on other planets) which "just might explain that huge storm that pumped all that heat up from the pacific to drop it all as about 15" of snow in my back yard while I was away."

HE also said the lack of solar forcing had lowered the upper atmosphere(Very thin but atmosphere none the less) by about a hundred miles or so, reducing atmosphere's capture area (Barns was how they measured an atom's neutron cross sectional capture area, think of this as planetary 'barns.')

Basically, what I think I heard was Sun is in hibernation, resulting in low/no high energy transfers to us, meaning no Ham radio communications because of low ionization which also means low clouds and higher reflectance meaning planetary cooling from a number of factors including lower energy output from the sun across the spectrum as well as reflectance losses.

Would someone please teach this class?

Thanks.

milo "may not be needing these"

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#1

Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

01/31/2009 9:11 PM

Check out this site. http://science.nasa.gov/ There's four or five articles on sun spots and other earth matters.

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#2

Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

01/31/2009 10:38 PM

"meaning no Ham radio communications"

No,no,no,no. If you look at the history of major disasters you'll find that ham radio was the only viable means of communication.

Sun cycles are an inconvenience and only happen every 11 yrs or so.

For more info you should check out :

http://www.arrl.org/

73 OM, WB2PFV

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#3

Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

02/01/2009 12:16 AM

Hi Milo

We have a global Ham disaster at hand.

I was at my Ham friend yesterday (friends for 39 years) and after hearing the bad quality of reception I told him that it was about time to invest in another proper set. (It already looks like a national radio station in his shack)

He is however not concerned because they know about the cycles.

5 - 6 years ago they had excellent reception and could communicate clearly halfway around the globe and it will be like that again.

If only the Global Warping experts take note.

Check the Van Allen radiation belt at wiki.

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#4

Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

02/01/2009 12:39 AM

My edit window lapsed before I could finish.

A while ago my Ham friend had me listen to a spooky sound.

It was like a sine wave increasing in pitch.

This was apparently caused by reflection in the Van Allen radiation belt.

This belt seems to change relative to sun spot activity.

try this link en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Van_Allen_radiation_belt

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#5

Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

02/01/2009 7:28 AM

My favourite site about this subject is www.spaceweather.com. Solar activity is documented daily as well as any chance to see aurora borealis, and there are great photos of these and other celestial events sent in by observers around the world.

Their links to information sites are comprehensive, I think, and they also post well-written articles from time to time explaining one phenomenon or another, in terms that are clear to experts and lay persons alike.

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#6

Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

02/02/2009 9:24 AM

Go here..... http://www.haarp.alaska.edu/

We are still in solar minimum. Solar maximum is long overdue.

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#7
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Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

02/02/2009 9:32 AM

That, my dear quacker, is precisely my point, and what I was hoping to get some additional insight andintelligent context about. I'll look at that site.

milo

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#8
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Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

02/02/2009 9:38 AM
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#9
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Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

02/02/2009 9:48 AM

Quack quack.....don't ask too many questions about HAARP. They got a lot of spooks buzzing about.

(silly questions like directing particle beams accurately(sort off) by bouncing them off the ionosphere and accidentally frying quaint fishing villages off the east coast)

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#10
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Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

02/02/2009 9:50 AM

Thanks. This is one of those issues that the data suggests is "quite singular" in its severity, yet is not on anyones radar. I was hoping to find some learned hand to walk us through the issue, and share judgment regarding this particular cycles serious departure from the mean...

Thanks.

Milo "Not hollering that the sky is falling, but the lack of solar forcing is certainly altering its properties"

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#11

Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

02/02/2009 9:54 AM

Milo, I think your assessment is more or less on target, there is another factor that is the mix as well. The geomagnetic field of the earth is waning as well. Any century or so now we are due for a magnetic polar flip. The Ionosphere is a result of the interactions between the geomagnetosphere and the heliomagnetosphere. Changes in either or both have a profound effect on the ionosphere. As the geomagnetosphere wanes and the geodynamo starts to precess and tumble, the lines of force become chaotic and there are multiple sub-poles that develop and start moving toward the equator. these sub-poles short out the smooth geomagnetic lines of force causing the overall field strength to fall. As the field strength falls the ionosphere contracts. This is the same process that the sun goes through on a 22 year cycle. Sunspots are a result of the subpoles that develop on the sun. The lower solar radiation also puts fewer charged particles into the ionosphere making it weaker. This allows more and more cosmic rays to enter the upper atmosphere. the cosmic rays act as nucleation site formers for ice crystals exactly the same way a cloud chamber works. The ice crystals are smaller and more numerous and are therefore more reflective, especially in the IR band. Hence global cooling. Then you add in the Milankovitch cycles on top of that and things really start looking strange. You can find an image of the Sun in the UV range from the peak of the sunspot cycle here. The loops are plasma following the magnetic lines of force. As you can see, the sunspots are subpoles that short out to each other. The same process is happening here on earth as well.

There is currently an area in the South Atlantic where the field strength is negligible and you can see auroras there when the solar output is right because the ionosphere is so close to the ground there.

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#12
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Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

02/02/2009 9:59 AM

Your ice crystal nucleation is "spot on" in my understanding, (I did build a cloud chamber for science fair as a kid- no prize, but saw one or two tracks. More fun playing with the dry ice...

This is exactly the kind of tutorial I was hoping for .

milo

Thanks

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#13
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Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

02/02/2009 10:02 AM

Rhabe would be the guy.

I've been listening to SW guys providing weather data to sailboat crews who don't have sat phones. The transmissions have greatly deteriorated in the past 10 years. Many have given up.

HAARP has been accused of degrading the ionosphere.

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#14
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Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

02/02/2009 10:07 AM

Another confirming data point.

I used to listen to Shortwave a lot before I got into computers.

Loved the alternative to the entrenched press.

Now the internet provides that.

milo

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#15
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Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

02/02/2009 10:09 AM

Are you referring to the inner and outer Van Allen belts?

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#16

Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

02/02/2009 11:28 AM
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#17
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Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

02/02/2009 12:02 PM

not a bad explanation, on this page. the site is hilarious. I kept clicking on 'next' to read more about ionosphere science, but page after page was focused on explaining that the HAARP does NOT deteriorate the ionosphere, and only affects a 9km radius directly above the station. These poor guys have been thru the wringer with the Conspiracy Theorists... lol. (go ahead, call me a fried-out quaint east coast villager.)

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#18
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Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

02/02/2009 12:12 PM

It's hilarious. The CT fringe got a lot of mileage playing HAARP. Went international at one point with governments demanding explanations.

Russkis got into the act just to piss them off. Never mind that they've been doing it for years.

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#19

Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

02/02/2009 12:41 PM

See information on the Maunder Minimum, and, on the Malenkovic cycle - a much longer period that correlates ice ages to the sun.

Bob G

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#20
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Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

02/02/2009 1:10 PM

Well, here is the free ionosphere/etc data page from HAARP, that I found through Duck's link. Just so we'll all know where to look on the internet for info if there's a sudden magnetosphere polar reversal thingy... er....anyway it's daily data. maybe worth checking over the morning coffee. Or while doing paper backups of data, ho hum...

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#21
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Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

02/02/2009 1:23 PM

Ah, yes.. the infamous russian Woodpecker is it?

Someone made a dreadful mistake when they named "ELF" waves. Did they run out of prefixes, ultra, very.. why not BLF the bottom of the low waves, I bet they would never have had this problem. They stumbled into the domain of cute names for wierd things, which is really only handled well by particle physicists..

BTW I heard there was some radioactive spillage up in Chalk River. Was it overblown? I hope you are not glowing.

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#22
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Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

02/02/2009 1:39 PM

Milo, the EM connection between the Earth's magnetic field and the Sun's is not well understood. Here is some more reading on the subject:

And here is another article from The Guardian.

You can find a simulation of the polar flip here.

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#23
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Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

02/02/2009 2:55 PM

If there was a spill we'd be the last ones to find out.

Probably the weekly pipe burst or some such silly thing. Tritium works wonders on the roses....huge blooms and such.

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#24

Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

02/02/2009 3:02 PM

The ionosphere of the earth is influenced by charged particles being emitted from the sun. The location(s) on the sun that give off the most charged particles are the suspots. The number of sunspots tend to vary over time in a fairly predictable manner. However we cannot perfectly model the cycle and admittedly there have been a couple of periods when the sunspots shut down for a period of time.

We are currently at the sunspot minimum or just comming out of it. The number of new cycle sunspots has been a little bit lower than expected. This is not new.

Radio propagation is greatly influenced by the number of charged particles charging up the ionosphere. Short wave is a bit dead although lower frequencies and UHF and VHF are not so much effected. In fact this is a good time of the cycle to use the 160 and 80 meter bands they are much quieter but do not depend as much on the ionosphere to travel around the earth.

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#25
In reply to #23

Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

02/02/2009 3:13 PM

Funky garden eh. Silly weekly pipe bursts. I heard about the 'leakage' on As It Happens last week. There was discussion in parliament which they played for the record. More or less the expected: the designated Harperite repeats their script twice word for word, assuring that there is no hazard. I guess the system works if the people who might be affected are the last to know: after all, stress itself is a health risk. They're protecting you from the risk of stress... aaaaah.

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#26
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Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

02/02/2009 3:26 PM

It was a heavy water spill and some tritium gas (by association heavy water). Mopped it up and wrung it out in the Ottawa R.

Problem is always with the government trying to placate the loony fringe. The more they try the more ammo the loonies get and nobody gets the facts.

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#27
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Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

02/02/2009 6:24 PM

They don't seem to get it: secrecy breeds mistrust. The whole thing could be laid out in four sentences, what and how much spilled, what it means, what was done, what safety standard did it meet.

Anyway, since it's your backyard, I'm reassured you're not worrying.. or glowing

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#28
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Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

02/02/2009 6:43 PM

There's more radiation in the geology of this area than anything that teapot ever put out (except once early 60's or late 50's).

Just have to keep the bean counters in their place and prevent them from taking over (which almost happened when head metallurgist and his department deemed to be unnecessary).

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#29

Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

02/02/2009 10:41 PM

Here is a link on the sun spot vs projections http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/SolarCycle/index.html

If I read the first chart correctly as of the first of the year we are well below the expected sunspot activity.

http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/ftpdir/weekly/RecentIndices.txt

At the bottom of the page July, August, September, and December are very low.

I had sun spot tables going way back but they seem to have been filed where I can't find them or lost to a nasty Trojan.

Brad

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#30

Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

02/02/2009 11:45 PM

Here is the forecasts for the last 75 days http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/ftpmenu/forecasts/RSGA.html

There was 2 very small sunspots in January and none since January 19th. With none expected in the next 3 to 5 days.

Now what does it all mean? I don't know. If the 2 Russian Scientists are to be believed, It means we are rapidly cooling. They are also the ones who tried to submit for peer review the sun spot data correlating to global temperatures going back to before the little ice age.

And I would love to see all the data to see the correlation for my self.

Brad

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#31
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Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

02/03/2009 1:46 PM

Just as an add-on...

Only some of the frequencies we use are affected by solar radiation... in fact some of them only work at particular times of the year irregardless. These are typically used for intercontinental communications, where we bounce signals off ionized layers in the atmosphere. The affected frequencies are in the area of 14 MHz, 21 MHz, and 28 MHz (for example).

For emergency communications, we typically use 146 MHz and 440 MHz for local communications, and 4 MHz for intra and interstate communications, none of which are affected by sunspots.

Frequencies given are only approximate and are not necessarily in "the Ham bands".

73s also

Bill NW7L

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#32
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Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

02/04/2009 8:09 AM

I managed to find data on the web to cover the last 1.5-centuries, which shows the geomagnetic field increasing on average over that period. But I couldn't find any multi-century data. Is your concern that it will continue to decay because of the long sunspot cycle? Or is there evidence of decay in the subterranean control magnet?

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#33
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Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

02/04/2009 9:12 AM

My contention is that the geomagnetic field strength is falling, by about 5% per century. Further, the South Atlantic Anomaly is growing. This will change the way in which solar radiation influences the earth's atmosphere and ionosphere. The Van Allen belts will shrink allowing more and more solar wind to impact the upper atmosphere and allow more and more cosmic rays to make it deeper into the atmosphere. Solar ionizing radiation making it to the ground level will increase as the magnetic field falls. Another side effect is that animals that use geomagnetic fields for navigation will become more and more confused. animals such as migratory birds, monarch butterflies, bats, cetaceans, and other species.

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#34
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Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

02/04/2009 10:07 AM

re: migratory birds: this is probably irrelevant to changes in geomagnetic field strength, but it is a fact that some populations of migratory bird species here in the North Atlantic have stopped flying south for the winter. Robins and bluejays for example, are now staying year round (as of the last decade or so). This is generally thought to be due to habitat destruction in the south. It's also been suggested that some birds stay because people are putting food in the feeders. Could weakening of geomagnetic fields be a contributing factor? Maybe not. If so, you would find some correlations in the geomagnetic data. I have no idea whether this pattern of non-migration is also found across the continent. Whatever the true explanation, it does seem to show that migratory patterns are not fixed by "instinct" or some other 'automatic' response, and that populations of migratory birds can change their behavior radically to adapt to changing conditions. Bearing in mind that the decision to winter north does expose them to some risks, and probably requires adaptations which are very different from those in their migratory history.

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#35
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Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

02/04/2009 10:39 AM

I see the statements - but all the data I can find on the web would indicate that the field has been rising since about 1860. I suspect that this rise is part of a decreasing sawtooth - but failed to find any supporting evidence for how the sawtooth has behaved prior to this period. I also accept that the field in the graphs that I've seen is the sum of the Earth's internal driving field and the secondary field of the ionosphere. Do you know where I can find relevant data?

On animals - I believe the relevant species were already around during the last few reversals - which suggests that, although it may cause disruption, mass extinctions due to this particular cause are not all that likely.

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#36
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Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

02/04/2009 11:03 AM

Perhaps this link will help. And this one.

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#37
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Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

02/04/2009 11:29 AM

Very interesting. Do you have any info on geomagnetic anomalies randomly occuring on various positions of the earth..other than the polar?

Pilots reported skewed compass readings over the area I'm near to. This took place over a few years and has not re-occured in the last five.

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#38
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Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

02/04/2009 11:35 AM

The reversals in the first appear to be a local phenomenon - I understand that there is geological evidence of this sort of thing happening in the past independent of the more general situation.

The model is interesting - because when it flipped it showed a rotation of the field rather than a collapse followed by rebirth - albeit the total field was initially at a low level.

However, as I said previously, I read the Wikipedia statement about a falling value of the field over the past 160 years, but the only direct measurements I could include the effects of the ionosphere, etc. and do not correlate with this view at all. In any case, even if it is falling at the moment, geomagnetic field strength is "above average" if we compare today's measurements with the last few million years.

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#39
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Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

02/04/2009 2:02 PM

Yes, that is more or less how I understand the process to occur, the geodynamo, for a heretofore unknown reason begins to precess and tumble, resulting in multiple sub-poles instead of two primary poles. since the lines of force are shorting from one subpole to the next, the overall field strength begins to decline, (although there may be places where the field lines reinforce each other.). these sub-poles migrate towards the equator eventually re-merging on the opposite side of the equator to form two primary poles of opposite polarity than before it all started. This is a nearly exact analog of what happens every 11 years with the sun.

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#40
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Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

02/04/2009 2:59 PM

Indeed. But if you'd asked me in ignorance of the facts which would have the shorter period, my first thought would have been our little Earth. Presumably the much slower convection currents are the main reason that everything happens much more slowly. Would the unpredictability of the Earth's magnetisation be down to the relatively large gravitational interactions with sun and moon? Or perhaps the variations in convection caused by continental insulators (and maybe even associated surface drag?). Maybe one day the general public will get to see a guide to the phenomena?

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#41
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Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

02/04/2009 3:18 PM

I have wondered what effect the much larger solar magnetosphere might have on the stability of the geomagnetosphere and have commented such to a number of geologists I know but their specialty is petroleum geology, not solid state geology so their answers were some variation of "Uh, I dunno". I don't know if each configuration is equally stable or if the position of the solar polarity has any kind of effect.

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#42
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Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

02/04/2009 4:03 PM

None of my geological friends are into this area either - all either precious metals or petrochemicals. I think you'd need a geophysical modeller - and even there, modelling strain relief in the crust seems to be more widely studied - earthquakes and volcanoes being of more immediate practical consequence, I suppose. But I'm certain there's enough general-knowledge type scientific interest to make it worth a qualified scientific writer making a study - hopefully, it's only a matter of time (yes, that too, no doubt)

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#43
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Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

02/04/2009 5:59 PM

My concern is that we are paying attention to the wrong indicators- increased co2 output instead of changes in solar energy incident and its terrestrial effects. I'm looking for competent guidance here, my background is not solar physics.

milo

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#44
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Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

02/04/2009 6:18 PM

I'm pretty sure you won't find any competent guidance at NASA Goddard... Even Hansen's former boss thinks he's full of crap.

After all, the guy has falsified data at least twice that I am aware of, refuses to allow anyone to review his methodology or data, and spends all of his time calling for inquisitions of anyone that doesn't follow him lock step.

That does not strike me as the actions of a competent or ethical scientist if you ask me.

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#45
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Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

02/04/2009 7:04 PM

Wrong indicators: My background is not solar physics. When I was a child the sun felt great on your bare skin. For the last decade, you cannot go out for half an hour without getting a burn. The sun feels scorching on my skin. We have record high readings on the UV index, still increasing (2008 is the first time I've seen it hit "9"). This is because of depletion of the atmospheric ozone layer, nothing more nor less. It is not caused by CO2, or sunspots and solar cycles either. It is caused by past (and lesser present) emissions of ionizing cpds like the CFC's, HCFCs and others that have entered into 'permanent' cycles in the stratosphere which break down stratospheric ozone.

There's a CO2-makes-this-worse scenario: the 'greenhouse effect' warming produced by CO2 affects the cycling of these cpds, thus accelerating ozone depletion.

The whole CO2 thing would be a non-issue, if someone could figure out how to get the damn chlorinated and brominated stuff out of the stratosphere directly.

I am personally pessimistic about the chances of restoring the stratosphere by reducing CO2 emissions.

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#46
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Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

02/04/2009 8:15 PM

If you're asking whether the ionosphere becomes degraded by the thermosphere the current wisdom is in the affirmative....see HAARP.

Whether it's an increase in C02 levels is open to analysis. My betting is on a combination of events that are occuring simultaneously.

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#47
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Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

02/05/2009 5:22 AM

Solar energy input is being monitored and included in the models - and its effect appears to be to be rather small. Whether you trust/respect the administrators at NASA should be irrelevant, as they aren't doing the real work. The reason you hear little about it from the modellers is simply that it is not an important effect - and they have more than enough complexity to explain to the general public (who don't have the time or inclination to go into every detail).

The way I see it is that we have an effect that has been predicted by modellers (albeit with large error bars) since the 1960s, and you are suggesting that what we are seeing is principally caused by a naturally occurring effect that so far as we know has never before caused a similar rate of change.

By the way, if the prime cause was a continuing change in the output of the sun, what do you suppose we could do about it? The least-bad thing I can think would be to reduce the greenhouse effect to compensate.

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#48
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Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

02/05/2009 5:30 AM

You are right - reducing CO2 will not restore the ozone layer - that is down to minimising emissions of halogenated compounds. We need to do both. It would as you suggest be good if we could find a method of sweeping these out - but I have to admit that my imagination doesn't extend to any practical way of doing that.

The present reduced sunspot activity isn't helping, of course, but we have no control over that, and the worst we should expect is that the cycle has become somewhat more random than of late.

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#49
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Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

02/05/2009 7:16 AM

Physicist, No you are wrong. They are using a generic number as a value of solar forcing, but they are not taking all of it's effects into account. They only THINK they are taking solar forcing into account. The models do not handle water vapor well at all, especially as it relates to cloud formation. The models do not take into account the expansion and contraction of the atmosphere an'd it's effects on solar forcing either.

And Hansen is very much the center of it all, it is his numbers that are most often cited, but his numbers are crap and everyone knows it. most of the scientists that are promoting global warming have a vested interest in "keeping up the skeer" as Nathan Bedford Forrest would say. They get thier funding as a result of global climate studies. If the global climate turned out to be not in as bad a shape as everyone thought their funding would dry up. That is a conflict of interest. There is no such thing as a unbiased researcher in this case.

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#50
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Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

02/05/2009 11:08 AM

I was obviously unclear.

My main point is that any Thomas (Del, even), Richard, or Harold (should that be Henry) who is true unto himself can draw his own "most likely conclusions" from the experience to date - irrespective of the honesty or otherwise of the modellers.

We have a rate of warming that is so far as we know quite unprecedented. We have also had a period of higher-than-recently solar activity - although (as the originator of this thread mentioned) that is currently not the case; however, we have no reason to suppose that this activity is particularly unusual. Irrespective of models, we can see that it is unlikely that the change is sufficient to cause an unprecedented rate of increase of temperature.

Now, I'm not close enough to Hansen's activities to confirm or refute your statements; in any case, ad hominem arguments generally leave me cold - except when I can see the evidence for myself and also that it is relevant. But any large-scale activity will attract its crooks, and clever ones will empire build and may end up at the top. On the other hand, there will not have been a bandwagon to mount when the work was first started, so you have to assume that some opinions were honestly held. But dishonest brokers do not necessarily invalidate an enterprise - in fact the usual problem is that they bankrupt a valid enterprise (but let's not go further into banking for now).

Returning to the specifics of water vapour, the poor handling is stated in the studies themselves. For past history, the effect of the vapour and crystallites is reasonably well known from satellite data, so the poor handling of its evolution can be corrected - and its influence appropriately discounted (yes, the work needs refinement, and that continues).
However, the argument here is that water vapour is not cumulative, except in so far as the forces that drive it are cumulative - so you need some other driver that is continually increasing - candidates?? (On which subject, a note: today's temperatures are not exceptional, so in themselves cannot be the drivers of exceptionally rapid change.)

A final note on my personal position - I first heard the theory of greenhouse gases presented at a seminar for a general scientific group in the early 1960s. At that point, it was just an interesting (though highly plausible) theory with some minor circumstantial corroboration. So far as I am concerned, it is the combination of changes since then and the lack of reasonable alternative causes that mean we have to take it seriously - and act as if it was basically sound until a satisfactory alternative explanation comes along.

BTW, honest or not, the communities working on global warming have no vested interest in false certainty - indeed, overstating the level of certainty would be very short-sighted, as there is no need to fund large-scale investigations into something that is already proved. So, if I was working in the field, dishonest, and feeling insecure about my longer-term prospects, I think I would be writing in every available forum about how the case was unproved...

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#51
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Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

02/05/2009 6:45 PM

Hi Physicist?

Reasonable and well stated.

If you look at the global warming question historically, it comes and goes on, very roughly, a 40 year cycle (I'm talking about the scientific concern as well as the figures).

When not worried about global warming, the scientific community is concerned about the "imminent ice age".

In a few years we should start to hear about the future dangers of global cooling.

I think the main problem is our incomplete knowledge of the mechanisms operating. We tend to think we know more about it than we actually do and start making pronouncements based on our knowledge, when it is actually ignorance.

The claim that the sun's variability has little effect is basically an assumption based on our current models. We don't actually know if this is correct and a more complete model may show it to be so.

The current models don't seem to account for the medieval warm period (in fact some deny it exists, despite historical evidence to the contrary). We are also unable to account for the mini ice ages in 15th/16th century and around the 4th/5th century.

Perhaps the experts should be discouraging the press hype and taking a more humble view of their state of ignorance. They should remember Isaac Newton's remark along the lines of "I feel like a little boy playing on the seashore while the ocean of truth stretches untouched before me".

Certainly, our current models don't fit documented historical evidence, let alone geological evidence of different climatic results with substantially greater CO2 levels than we currently have.

The absorption spectrum of CO2 doesn't appear to make it a very effective greenhouse gas.

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#52
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Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

02/05/2009 8:11 PM

The Water vapor was published in peer review in Science recently. I have not had a chance to check it out in detail.

The short version was vapor does not have much effect but it magnifies the variation. I was half a sleep but that seemed in direct conflict but this was an overview by a writer not the article itself so take it with a few grains of salt.

I'll dig around and see if I can't find the article.

Brad

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#53
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Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

02/06/2009 6:22 AM

I'm sorry, but I fear that you have been subjected to a gross distortion of the available information.

You imply that the theory says that variations in insolation would not have significant effect. That is simply a misconstruction. What has been claimed is only that the sun's recent variations have not been not out of the ordinary but that the rate of global warming were. So, irrespective of our ability to model the changes, we can infer that the global warming we have seen recently cannot be due exclusively due to changes in solar radiation.

Following on from that, the modelling allows the medieval warm period - but it cannot predict it because there is insufficient data on the insolation during that period.
But (at the risk of repeating myself) what it does say is that the temperature is unlikely to have changed as rapidly during the medieval period as it has in the last 20 years.

Second, the scientific (as opposed to publicised) concern about ice ages is continuous, and it is not in any way in conflict with the global warming scenario. The concern is that a significant period of highly damaging warming could precipitate an at-least-as damaging ice age. The issue is that no-one knows exactly how warming will affect the oceans, and the fears are that the global warming could precipitate changes in the ocean convection currents that would bring cold water to the surface. This is an instability that might conceivably precipitate an ice age - but I admit it is paradoxical that the driver would still be that the surface temperature was increased by the greenhouse effect (exacerbated perhaps because the distribution of temperatures across the globe produced by greenhouse effects would be different from that produced by increases in insolation).
Cynical note: I think this may be the only theory originated by Fred Hoyle that remains current...

It is generally agreed, understood, and included in the models that the absorption spectrum of CO2 does not make it a very effective greenhouse gas; fluoro-hydrocarbon refrigerants for example are thousands of times more effective on a per-molecule basis. The issue is the very large quantities of CO2 involved.

Penultimately, the 'experts' are in fact refreshingly modest about their understanding. They know and declare the limits of their knowledge. That they cannot explain all the geological data, and also that they cannot predict whether greenhouse-gas-induced warming will precipitate an extended warm period or whether there will be an unstable 'flip' to an ice age. They even ascribe nearly 10% uncertainty to their medium-term prediction of untenable global warming.

And finally: my difficulty is to avoid being subject to the standard conjugation of the verb "to be sceptical"? In case you aren't familiar, it runs as follows:
I am sceptical
You are selective
He ignores the evidence

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#54

Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

05/30/2009 12:52 AM

New update

New Solar Cycle Prediction direct from NASA

and I quote ..."According to the forecast, the sun should remain generally calm for at least another year. From a research point of view, that's good news because solar minimum has proven to be more interesting than anyone imagined. Low solar activity has a profound effect on Earth's atmosphere, allowing it to cool and contract."...

Brad

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#55
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Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

05/30/2009 7:36 AM

Thanks Brad.

another year of no/low shortwave...

milo

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#56
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Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

05/30/2009 1:07 PM

Just wait until the Norks set off their EMP bomb in LEO....

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#57
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Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

05/31/2009 9:00 AM

Now I know how the newsreader managed to announce that North Yorkshire had illegally performed an underground nuclear test.

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#58

Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

06/17/2009 10:55 PM

The Sun Spots/ Solar winds may be on the return.

NASA has this new(?) finding just released.

Brad

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#59

Re: Current Solar Cycle - Can anybody give me a primer?

09/03/2009 6:00 PM

Are Sunspots Disappearing?

The latest from NASA on Sun Spots.

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