JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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Solar Wind bombardment “worse than we thought”, but we *know* particles at 800km/s have No effect on our climate

Solar Wind, Earths magnetosphere.  Image: NASA

The Solar Wind is a torrent of space weather cruising past at 500 — 800 kilometers per second which is around 1.5 million miles per hour or, if you prefer, Mach 2,000.*  It’s so powerful it erodes rocks on Mars, ejects particles up high and creates a kind of atmosphere of tiny rock particles which we can study. Then it blows that Martian atmosphere away.

In this new research people realized it was not just the rain of tiny high-speed protons fritzing Mars at 800 km per second that were carving up the rocks — the main role was from the heavy and highly charged  He2+. (Now there’s a molecule you don’t see too often).

You might think that a variable torrent of charged particles that are constantly changing speed and direction might have an impact on our atmosphere, but you’d be wrong (or at least, politically incorrect). On Earth the solar wind “just causes the northern lights”. How do we know? We’ve got climate models. In all known GCMs the total global forcing for solar wind is “zero”. Must be true.

Thus and verily the IPCC can conclude that a flow of [...]

Satellite going AWOL at 28,000km/hr — tracking that Chinese stray machinery

The ESA blog has this trajectory “prediction” (below). Given that the window of reentry stretches across a day and the object in question is doing 28,000 km per hour, we can say for sure this will hit Earth. (Or rather, some small part of the satellite that survives the burning up process will touchdown somewhere). Two weeks ago Roy Spencer predicted it will probably hit “the ocean” and explained why it is so difficult to estimate the actual impact point. It is circling the Earth every 89 minutes.

UPDATE: This was China’s first space station. Launched in 2011. It has two sleeping spots for astronauts, and was visited twice.  View this as a mark of the rise of China. Though it also says something that China lost control/contact with it in March 2016. Tiangong-1 is only 8,500 kg. The Russian space station Mir was 120,000kg.

UPDATE #2: 3pm  Watch the LIVE track at N2Yo (overloaded)  or at SATview or  Heavens Above.

UPDATED #3: Narrowing the risk map.  Dr Marco Langbroek‏ 

Aerospace estimate is April 2 at 02:00 UTC ± 7   0:18 UTC ± 2 hours.  (Current UTC time is 5:10pm, so seven-ish hours to go, more or less.)  USA and [...]

Historic Eclipse will test US solar-power grid like … clouds do

Eclipse Map: NASA

Feel the panic. Or not.

Historic Eclipse Will Test America’s Grid as Solar Waxes, Wanes

Grid operators, utilities and electricity generators are bracing for more than 12,000 megawatts of solar power to start falling offline as the moon blocks out the sun across a 70-mile-wide (113-kilometer) corridor stretching from Oregon to South Carolina.

This is the first major test of the power grid since America started bringing large amounts of intermittent solar and wind resources onto the system. It comes just as the grid is undergoing an unprecedented transformation whereby flexible resources such as battery storage will complement growing supplies of solar and wind.

Reader Andrew writes: “The path of totality is trivially narrow although the partial eclipse is quite wide. But they mustn’t have clouds in the US.”

Indeed.

Looks like it is being marketed as some kind of dummy run to “prove” intermittent energy will not hurt the grid when it “takes over”?

The celestial event provides an opportunity to test plants, software and markets refined in recent years in anticipation of the day when renewable energy becomes the dominant source of power.

Or perhaps it’s [...]

The Solar Wind may be changing the surface temperature of the North Atlantic

Could it be the missing key? The solar wind blasts charged particles, electrons, stuff, towards Earth at 500 km a second  — that’s one to two million miles per hour. It speeds up, slows down and shifts in direction as it travels past the Earth and has its own magnetic field. The wind speed varies from 300 km per second up to 800 and the impact on Earth changes with our magnetic field and our seasons. You might think this kind of monster flow might have some effect on our climate. But modern climate models are 95% certain that none of this matters. Only crazy people would think that a electrons flying past at a million miles per hour could “do something” to our stratosphere, or ozone, or cloud cover.

Curiously, a recent study shows that when the solar wind is fastest, the North Atlantic is coldest on the surface. The NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation) appears to correlate. The effect is strongest in the northern winter months. Notably the modern expert climate models fail to predict any of the cycles within our major ocean basins. How immature is our understanding of space weather?

Could changes in the solar wind be [...]

Extreme solar storms hit Earth in 774 and 993AD — What would happen if one hit now?

August 31, 201. This coronal mass ejection just missed Earth, according to NASA

There were two mysterious sudden spikes in carbon 14 in tree rings around a thousand years ago. Now some researchers at Lund University say they’ve matched those to beryllium layers in ice cores from the Arctic and Antarctic. Some wild event made these changes across continents all over the world at the same time, and about the only thing that could  have done that was a massive solar storm (or two). There are estimates these extreme storms would have been ten times stronger than the biggest solar storms we have had in the last few decades. The two big bad storms are described as a few times bigger than even the largest solar storm in modern history, which was The Carrington Event in 1859. The radioactive spikes specifically show up in tree rings in 774/775AD and 993/994AD. It’s pretty cool that we can pin those years down so accurately, and as an aside, I imagine it makes a fairly handy calibration point for tree ring researchers now that we know it was global.

Unfortunately, if one of those happened now, it would not be fun. The [...]

Earth creates tides in the rock that is the Moon

Earth from the Moon | NASA

Thanks to the Earth’s gravitational pull, the Moon is slightly egg shaped. The closest part bulges out by 51cm towards the Earth, and here’s the weirdest thing, the bulge moves.  The same side of the Moon always faces Earth, but if you stood on the Moon, the Earth would appear to wobble around a particular patch of “moon-sky”. And like a tide of rock, the bulge in the surface, slowly rolls around on the Moon –  following the pull from the Earth.

The ball of rock called the Moon is  3,474 km in diameter. I’m guessing the Man-on-the-Moon would not notice the tide much.

Though I imagine it will be a right headache for future Moonville Skyscrapers.

Despite  the force required to deform a ball of rock that large, and from such a distance, climate models in their infinite wisdom know that the science is settled and the Moon has no significant effect on Earth.

You might recall that Ian Wilson has other ideas, and suggests lunar cycles set up atmospheric standing waves which may seed ENSO patterns.

And we wonder why those models don’t work?

[...]

Can the Moon change our climate? Can tides in the atmosphere solve the mystery of ENSO?

Image by Luc Viatour  www.Lucnix.be

The Moon has such a big effect — moving 70% of the matter on the Earth’s surface every day, that it seems like the bleeding obvious to suggest that just maybe, it also affects the air, the wind, and causes atmospheric tides. Yet the climate models assume the effect is zero or close to it.

Indeed, it seems so obvious, it’s a “surely they have studied this before” moment. Though, as you’ll see, the reason lunar effects may have been ignored is not just “lunar-politics” and a lack of funding, but because it’s also seriously complex. Keep your brain engaged…

Ian Wilson and Nikolay Sidorenkov have published a provocative paper, Long-Term Lunar Atmospheric Tides in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s an epic effort of 14,000 words and a gallery of graphs. As these atmospheric tides swirl around the planet they appear to be creating standing waves of abnormal air-pressure that slowly circle the planet, once every 18 years. If this is right, then it could be the key to finally understanding, and one day predicting, the mysterious Pacific ENSO pattern that so affects the global climate. Even at this early stage, brave predictions are on [...]

The Moons’ influence on the atmosphere over Australia

We know the moon changes our tides, but can it also change our rainfall? Could the moon also cause tides in the atmosphere? Some researchers have found such periodic movements in air above 3000m. Some have suggested that the moon drives the cyclical shifts in the Length of Day (LOD) that occur on a fortnightly and seasonal basis.

Ian Wilson has been scouring the data quietly for years, following these ideas, and has found a link between lunar cycles and the sub tropical high pressure ridge that occurs in summer over the East Coast of Australia. He noticed there were 9.4 and 3.8 year cycles which match periods in spring tidal cycles. What matters is how close the full moon is to perhelion (the  closest point Earth comes to the Sun).  It’s yet another piece of the puzzle that the IPCC favoured models ignore.

The lunar forces are, not surprisingly, smaller than the solar one, and as the abstract points out: “it is not so much in what years do the lunar tides reach their maximum strength, but whether or not there are peaks in the strength of the lunar tides that re-occur at the same time within the annual [...]