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Thread: Solar Cycle 24 Update

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    Solar Cycle 24 Update

    As noted below Solar cycle 24 appears to be an interruption to the solar magnetic cycle as opposed to a slow down in the solar magnetic cycle. An interruption indicates something fundamental has changed in the sun. A slow down is just a reduction in the number of sunspots that are produced by the sun. Specifically what will happen next is not known. I will up date this thread when there is new observational evidence to validate or invalidate the competing solar mechanism theories.

    As noted below, Livingston and Penn have found that over the last 10 years each new sunspot that is produced by the sun has less and less magnetic energy. (This is a change from previous solar observations.) The sunspots require a magnetic field strength of 2000 gauss to survive their trip through the solar turbulent convection zone. (One solar theory has the magnetic ropes that rise to the surface of the sun to form sunspots being created at the interface of the solar convection zone and the solar radiative zone which is called the solar tachocline.)

    In the paleo record on the earth there is evidence of significant cyclic changes to the sun. The changes are not just more or less sunspots per cycle. In the mass media there is often discussion of the number of sunspots per cycle noting past evidence of changes in climate on the earth that correlate with weak solar magnetic cycles. As noted below weak solar magnetic cycles results in a weak solar heliosphere which results in high GCR striking the earth’s atmosphere.

    Comment:
    The solar heliosphere is the name for a bubble of solar material that this ejected by the sun. The extent of the solar heliosphere is dependent on the density and speed of the solar wind. The solar heliosphere contains pieces of magnetic flux that are ejected by the sun. When the solar magnetic cycle is active (high speed solar wind and high density solar wind), the solar heliosphere extends further into the solar system.

    The pieces of magnetic flux in the solar heliosphere deflected high speed cosmically generated ions “galactic cosmic rays” GCR. When the solar magnetic cycle is weak more and higher energy GCR strikes the earth’s atmosphere.


    http://solarscience.msfc.nasa.gov/Heliosphere.shtml

    It appears based on an analysis of the paleo record on the earth that when the sun spot mechanism has been interrupted there are very strong coronal mass ejections (CME) that occur when the sun spot mechanism restarts. It appears the sunspot mechanism stabilizes the sun. Counter intuitively, in the past very large coronal mass ejections correlate with times when the solar magnetic cycle has been interrupted. Specifically what causes CME is not known. There are competing mechanisms and there are observations which the mechanisms cannot explain.

    This is a link to another NASA reduction to the predicted number of sunspots for solar cycle 24. As this is the seventh reduction to the predicted number of sunspots it is evident that what is happening is not understood. The initial solar cycle 24 prediction was that solar cycle 24 would be stronger than past cycles.

    http://solarscience.msfc.nasa.gov/predict.shtml

    Solar Cycle Prediction (Updated 2010/12/06)

    Current prediction for the next sunspot cycle maximum gives a smoothed sunspot number maximum of about 64 in June of 2013.

    This is a link to Livingston and Penn’s paper that discuss the observation that newly formed sunspots have a weaker magnetic field and the observation that there are no surface sunspots that have a magnetic field strength less than 1500 gauss.

    http://arxiv4.library.cornell.edu/PS...009.0784v1.pdf


    Long-term Evolution of Sunspot Magnetic Fields By Matthew J. Penn And William Livingston

    Independent of the normal solar cycle, a decrease in the sunspot magnetic field strength has been observed using the Zeeman-split 1564.8nm Fe I spectral line at the NSO Kitt Peak McMath-Pierce telescope. Corresponding changes in sunspot brightness and the strength of molecular absorption lines were also seen. This trend was seen to continue in observations of the first sunspots of the new solar Cycle 24, and extrapolating a linear fit to this trend would lead to only half the number of spots in Cycle 24 compared to Cycle 23, and imply virtually no sunspots in Cycle 25. ...


    ...We reported in Penn & Livingston (2006) that a time series of this magnetic field data showed a decrease in the umbral magnetic field strength which was independent of the normal sunspot cycle. Also, the measurements revealed a threshold magnetic field strength of about 1500 Gauss, below which no dark pores formed. A linear extrapolation of the magnetic field trend suggested that the mean field strength would reach this threshold 1500 Gauss value in the year 2017. Furthermore, analysis of the umbral continuum brightness showed another linear trend, and extrapolation showed the umbral brightness would be equal to the quiet Sun brightness at about the same year. Finally, the molecular line depths showed a decreasing strength with time, and again the trend suggested that molecular absorption lines would disappear from the average sunspot umbra near 2017.
    http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2..._jetstream.htm

    September 3, 2009: “Are Sunspots Disappearing? – The sun is in the pits of the deepest solar minimum in nearly a century. Weeks and sometimes whole months go by without even a single tiny sunspot. The quiet has dragged out for more than two years, prompting some observers to wonder, are sunspots disappearing?
    http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2...p_sunspots.htm

    September 29, 2009 “Cosmic Rays Hit Space Age High – In 2009, cosmic ray intensities have increased 19% beyond anything we’ve seen in the past 50 years,” says Richard Mewaldt of Caltech. “The increase is significant, and it could mean we need to re-think how much radiation shielding astronauts take with them on deep-space missions.”
    http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2...cosmicrays.htm

    March 12, 2010 “NASA – Solar ‘Current of Fire’ Speeds Up – the top of the sun’s Great Conveyor Belt has been running at record-high speeds for the past five years. ”
    http://science.nasa.gov/science-news..._conveyorbelt/

    July 15, 2010 “A Puzzling Collapse of Earth’s Upper Atmosphere – This is the biggest contraction of the thermosphere in at least 43 years”
    http://science.nasa.gov/science-news..._thermosphere/

    Sept. 21, 2010: “Solar Storms can Change Directions, Surprising Forecasters”
    http://science.nasa.gov/science-news.../21sep_zigzag/

    Dec. 13, 2010: “Global Eruption Rocks the Sun – A global eruption on the sun has shattered old ideas about solar activity.”
    http://science.nasa.gov/science-news...lobaleruption/

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    Counter intuitively, the largest solar coronal mass ejections (CMEs) occur during periods when there are low solar cycles.

    The concern from the standpoint of the earth is a very, very, large CME from the sun. i.e. The sun changes to a mode which has not been observed before. Due to that change there are very, very, large CMEs from the sun.

    As noted above solar cycle 24 appears to be an interruption to the solar magnetic cycle as opposed to a slow down in the solar cycle. Typically solar magnetic cycles follow a pattern. The number of sunspots and the rise time of the start of the last cycle correlates with the magnitude of the next cycle.

    Solar cycle 24 broke that pattern. The prediction for solar cycle 24 has been adjusted seven times. There are multiple noted anomalous observations concerning solar cycle 24.

    For example:


    http://science.nasa.gov/science-news...lobaleruption/
    Dec. 13, 2010: On August 1, 2010, an entire hemisphere of the sun erupted. Filaments of magnetism snapped and exploded, shock waves raced across the stellar surface, billion-ton clouds of hot gas billowed into space. Astronomers knew they had witnessed something big.
    It was so big, it may have shattered old ideas about solar activity.

    "The August 1st event really opened our eyes," says Karel Schrijver of Lockheed Martin's Solar and Astrophysics Lab in Palo Alto, CA. "We see that solar storms can be global events, playing out on scales we scarcely imagined before."
    http://science.nasa.gov/science-news..._thermosphere/

    July 15, 2010: NASA-funded researchers are monitoring a big event in our planet's atmosphere. High above Earth's surface where the atmosphere meets space, a rarefied layer of gas called "the thermosphere" recently collapsed and now is rebounding again.

    "This is the biggest contraction of the thermosphere in at least 43 years," says John Emmert of the Naval Research Lab, lead author of a paper announcing the finding in the June 19th issue of the Geophysical Research Letters (GRL). "It's a Space Age record."

    The collapse happened during the deep solar minimum of 2008-2009—a fact which comes as little surprise to researchers. The thermosphere always cools and contracts when solar activity is low. In this case, however, the magnitude of the collapse was two to three times greater than low solar activity could explain.
    http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/4...disruption.jpg


    http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/video...ia_id=16939864

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    William, Thanks for posting the recent Penn and Livingston paper. As the cycle continues it will be interesting to follow this work. Again the Irish curse of "may you live in interesting times comes to mind".

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    Note, this is a continuation of a discussion started here:
    http://www.bautforum.com/showthread....Solar-cycle-24

    Since that thread stretched to 17 pages, I'll leave this as a standalone for now.
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    This is interesting.

    One of the mysteries of the sun is why is the plasma that surrounds the sun (the solar corona which is the solar atmosphere) so much hotter than the surface of the sun. The surface of the sun is around 7000 Kelvin and the corona varies from 1 million to 2 million Kelvin.

    Solar specialist have found that small jets of super heated plasma are shooting up from the sun's surface into the corona which heats the solar corona. The finding of the jets was not expected.

    There is currently no explanation as to what is heating the small jets at the top of the sun's surface to millions of degrees kelvin.

    http://nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?or...&preview=false

    Longstanding Mystery of Sun's Hot Outer Atmosphere Solved (My comment: NOT Solved. Found what is heating the Corona. Do not understand what is heating the jets or why they exist or what causes them to shoot up into the corona.)

    One of the most enduring mysteries in solar physics is why the Sun's outer atmosphere, or corona, is millions of degrees hotter than its surface.

    Now scientists believe they have discovered a major source of hot gas that replenishes the corona: jets of plasma shooting up from just above the Sun's surface.
    The finding addresses a fundamental question in astrophysics: how energy is moved from the Sun's interior to create its hot outer atmosphere.
    "It's always been quite a puzzle to figure out why the Sun's atmosphere is hotter than its surface," says Scott McIntosh, a solar physicist at the High Altitude Observatory of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo., who was involved in the study.

    The findings provide an observational challenge to the existing theories of coronal heating.
    "Our observations reveal, for the first time, the one-to-one connection between plasma that is heated to millions of degrees and the spicules that insert this plasma into the corona."
    During the past few decades, scientists proposed a wide variety of theoretical models, but the lack of detailed observation significantly hampered progress.
    "One of our biggest challenges is to understand what drives and heats the material in the spicules," says De Pontieu.

    A key step, according to De Pontieu, will be to better understand the interface region between the Sun's visible surface, or photosphere, and its corona.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun

    Coronal heating problem
    The optical surface of the Sun (the photosphere) is known to have a temperature of approximately 6,000 K. Above it lies the solar corona, rising to a temperature of 1a,000,000–2,000,000 K.[54] The high temperature of the corona shows that it is heated by something other than direct heat conduction from the photosphere.[56]
    It is thought that the energy necessary to heat the corona is provided by turbulent motion in the convection zone below the photosphere, and two main mechanisms have been proposed to explain coronal heating.[54] The first is wave heating, in which sound, gravitational or magnetohydrodynamic waves are produced by turbulence in the convection zone.[54] These waves travel upward and dissipate in the corona, depositing their energy in the ambient gas in the form of heat.[112] The other is magnetic heating, in which magnetic energy is continuously built up by photospheric motion and released through magnetic reconnection in the form of large solar flares and myriad similar but smaller events—nanoflares.[113]

    Currently, it is unclear whether waves are an efficient heating mechanism. All waves except Alfvén waves have been found to dissipate or refract before reaching the corona.[114] In addition, Alfvén waves do not easily dissipate in the corona. Current research focus has therefore shifted towards flare heating mechanisms.[54]

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    It appears the observational evidence concerning solar cycle 24 may change solar science.

    This link just confirms what is currently happening is not understood and was not predicted.

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/ar...um-forecasting


    Solar physicists here at the semiannual meeting of the American Astronomical Society this week offered a number of mechanisms to shed light on what has been happening on the sun of late, but conceded that the final answer—or more likely answers—remains opaque.
    "I think we're almost in violent agreement that this is an interesting minimum," said David Hathaway of the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. By several measures—geomagnetic activity, weakness of polar magnetic fields, flagging solar deflection of galactic cosmic rays—the minimum was the deepest on record, Hathaway said, although some of those records contain just a few cycles.
    After hearing his colleagues' various approaches to investigating the sun's behavior, Hill took stock of a field with many open questions. "My main impression of all this is I'm gratified to see that we all agree that this is an interesting minimum," Hill said. "What's not so gratifying is we have no clue why any of these effects are happening."

    http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/ftpdir/weekly/Ap.gif


    If you look at the sunspot pictures in this link, the sunspots are becoming smaller and smaller and starting to show evidence of being torn apart by the time they have reached the sun's surface.


    http://www.solen.info/solar/

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    I found this post most interesting review about our current understanding of the Sun, I look forward to reviewing the Livingston and Penn paper.

    There have been many mechanisms proposed for solar coronal heating nanoflares, hyperdiffusion of magnetic helicity and one of my favourites alfven wave heating described by the following paper
    http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/...903.3546v1.pdf

    The latter paper describes so called bright points disturbances, motions of these footpoints excite alfven waves from the photosphere and into the chromosphere. Motions of these footpoints have been attributed to the interactions between solar granules.

    What is interesting is the connectedness of solar events
    http://science.nasa.gov/science-news...lobaleruption/

    It's interesting to enquire about the impact of events in the solar corona on behaviour at the tacholine, such wave coupling induced events may in part explain this large scale of solar events.

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    Solar cycle 24 is an anomalous cycle. I would expect based on the paleoclimatic record (there are cycles of cooling and warming and weird abrupt climate changes that correlate for some unknown reason with a variance in the sun) that there will be observable changes on the earth due to what ever is causing this abrupt change in the sun.

    Stay tuned.

    http://www.sec.noaa.gov/SolarCycle/f10.gif





    http://www.sec.noaa.gov/SolarCycle/sunspot.gif



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    Quote Originally Posted by William View Post
    Solar cycle 24 is an anomalous cycle.
    I will just quote David Hathaway for a moment: "We need to be careful about extending what we've seen in one or two cycles to all of them"

    The impossible often has a kind of integrity the merely improbable lacks. -Douglas Adams


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    As noted below the magnetic field strength of newly formed sunspots continues to decrease. (Attached below is a link to Livingston and Penn’s most recent data).

    The origin of sunspots (there was more than one theory as to what produces sunspots, the recent observations supports this mechanism) that are observed on the surface of the sun, are magnetic ropes that are created by some mechanism at the solar tachocline (interface of the solar convection zone and the solar radiative zone). The magnetic ropes are formed at the tachocline and then released to float up through the convection zone where they form sunspots on the surface of the sun. (Think of what we are observing now and think about this mechanism.)

    Livingston and Penn’s observation is the magnetic field strength of individual sunspots continues to decrease. Thinking along the magnetic rope mechanism, L & P’s observation would require the mechanism that creates magnetic ropes at the solar tachocline to have been interrupted.

    Theoretical calculations indicate the magnetic ropes must have a magnetic field intensity of 2000 gauss to avoid being torn apart as they pass through the turbulent solar convection zone as they float up to the solar surface. As the magnetic field strength of the ropes decreases, the magnetic ropes are starting to become distorted by the forces in the turbulent convection zone. Evidence of this distortion are the complicated unstable fields on the surface of the sun. (Many of the recent sunspots are tiny, with a lifetime of a few days rather than a month which was normal for sunspots in past cycles.) The recent solar flare that was produced is due to the distortion of the ropes which produces an unstable sunspot.

    Comment:
    The magnetic ropes lose some strength as they travel up through the convection zone. The average magnetic field strength of sunspots was 3000 gauss in the 1990s. The average magnetic field strength of sunspots is now 2000 gauss.

    This is a five day time lapse movie showing a recent sunspot forming on the surface of the sun.


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1VpM...layer_embedded


    This is a link to one of Livingston and Penn’s papers.

    http://www.probeinternational.org/li...-penn-2008.pdf


    We have observed spectroscopic changes in temperature sensitive molecular lines, in the magnetic splitting of an Fe I line, and in the continuum brightness of over 1000 sunspot umbrae from 1990-2005. All three measurements show consistent trends in which the darkest parts of the sunspot umbra have become warmer (45K per year) and their magnetic field strengths have decreased (77 Gauss per year), independently of the normal 11-year sunspot cycle. A linear extrapolation of these trends suggests that few sunspots will be visible after 2015.

    http://www.leif.org/research/Livings...and%20Penn.png


    http://www.leif.org/research/F107-SSN-divergence.png


    We should observationally have an opportunity over the next few years to watch how the sun changes due to the interruption of the sunspot mechanism. Livingston and Penn are predicting the sun will not be able to produce sunspots around 2015.

    There are a set of peculiar solar observations which cannot be explained by the current solar models. It will be interesting to see if these theoretical problems will be resolve with new data.


    There have been a number of recent papers and studies produced to warn of the consequences of a large solar coronal mass ejections (CME) striking the earth based on solar observations over the last 200 years. Large CMEs are not simply an academic problem. There are specific methods (installing isolating switches to limit induced voltage on north south running power transmission lines, systems installed to rapidly and safely shutdown the entire electrical grid and associated power generation equipment including nuclear reactors) to mitigate the damage and time to repair (set up emergency plants to construct power system components, stock pile magnetic wire for transformer production, stock pile long lead power transformers) electrical systems that can be done.

    The study estimates that it would take roughly 2 to 3 years to have the entire electrical grid restarted after a direct impact of a one in 200 year CME, if no preparation was taken. People do not understand and likely can not imagine the consequences of losing a country's electrical grid for 2 to 3 years.

    As noted above, counter intuitively, the largest most powerful coronal mass ejections (CME) occur when the sunspot cycle has been interrupted. There is evidence on the earth of observations which appear to have been caused by multiple closely spaced in time very, very powerful CME injections. The likelihood of a direct hit of the earth of a CME injection is dependent on the number and magnitude of the CMEs. Logically estimates of the number and magnitude of CME mass ejections would be based on solar observations in the last 100 years or so and would be dependent on the assumed solar mechanisms.

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    Quote Originally Posted by William View Post
    AsThere have been a number of recent papers and studies produced to warn of the consequences of a large solar coronal mass ejections (CME) striking the earth based on solar observations over the last 200 years. Large CMEs are not simply an academic problem. There are specific methods (installing isolating switches to limit induced voltage on north south running power transmission lines, systems installed to rapidly and safely shutdown the entire electrical grid and associated power generation equipment including nuclear reactors) to mitigate the damage and time to repair (set up emergency plants to construct power system components, stock pile magnetic wire for transformer production, stock pile long lead power transformers) electrical systems that can be done.

    The study estimates that it would take roughly 2 to 3 years to have the entire electrical grid restarted after a direct impact of a one in 200 year CME, if no preparation was taken. People do not understand and likely can not imagine the consequences of losing a country's electrical grid for 2 to 3 years.

    As noted above, counter intuitively, the largest most powerful coronal mass ejections (CME) occur when the sunspot cycle has been interrupted. There is evidence on the earth of observations which appear to have been caused by multiple closely spaced in time very, very powerful CME injections. The likelihood of a direct hit of the earth of a CME injection is dependent on the number and magnitude of the CMEs. Logically estimates of the number and magnitude of CME mass ejections would be based on solar observations in the last 100 years or so and would be dependent on the assumed solar mechanisms.
    so chances are high that somewhere in the world, someone's going to lose power soon by this assumption?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tenshu View Post
    so chances are high that somewhere in the world, someone's going to lose power soon by this assumption?
    There has been the initial warning, an indication that something has changed with the sun. The current observational data supports the assertion that there will be large CME ejections. In fact there has already been a large CME ejection which is odd as solar cycle 24 is just starting.

    The paleo data appears to support the assertion that the sun periodically (400 years and 1470 years) produces a series of very, very, large CME ejections. Based on timing the next occurrence of the very strong 1470 year event should be in 200 years, however, the 20th century solar changes and the warming on the earth is what has happened in past prior to the 1470 year event.

    The affects of the very, very, large CME ejections would be similar to the electomagnetic pulse that is generated by a nuclear explosion at high altitudes. The electromagnetic pulse from a nuclear explosion will destroy electronic equipment and electrical grids. It is not clear at this time that sun will produce a series of very, very, large CME ejections. Hopefully we will not have an opportunity to observe a series of very, very, large CME ejections.


    http://science.nasa.gov/science-news...lobaleruption/


    Dec. 13, 2010: On August 1, 2010, an entire hemisphere of the sun erupted. Filaments of magnetism snapped and exploded, shock waves raced across the stellar surface, billion-ton clouds of hot gas billowed into space. Astronomers knew they had witnessed something big. It was so big, it may have shattered old ideas about solar activity.

    "The August 1st event really opened our eyes," says Karel Schrijver of Lockheed Martin's Solar and Astrophysics Lab in Palo Alto, CA. "We see that solar storms can be global events, playing out on scales we scarcely imagined before."

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    Quote Originally Posted by William View Post
    There has been the initial warning, an indication that something has changed with the sun. The current observational data supports the assertion that there will be large CME ejections. In fact there has already been a large CME ejection which is odd as solar cycle 24 is just starting.

    The paleo data appears to support the assertion that the sun periodically (400 years and 1470 years) produces a series of very, very, large CME ejections. Based on timing the next occurrence of the very strong 1470 year event should be in 200 years, however, the 20th century solar changes and the warming on the earth is what has happened in past prior to the 1470 year event.

    The affects of the very, very, large CME ejections would be similar to the electomagnetic pulse that is generated by a nuclear explosion at high altitudes. The electromagnetic pulse from a nuclear explosion will destroy electronic equipment and electrical grids. It is not clear at this time that sun will produce a series of very, very, large CME ejections. Hopefully we will not have an opportunity to observe a series of very, very, large CME ejections.
    Either way from what I can try to gather from what your saying is that, if the chances of these ejections are high, then several places on the earth would lose power if they occur depending on where the ejections connect.

    That's a scary thought( and another mental strain.), and here I thought the solar cycle wasn't going to be bad...

    William....are we looking at another potential doomsday scenario here because of these ejections?
    Last edited by Tenshu; 2011-Feb-19 at 07:15 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tenshu View Post
    Either way from what I can try to gather from what your saying is that, if the chances of these ejections are high, then several places on the earth would lose power if they occur depending on where the ejections connect.

    That's a scary thought( and another mental strain.), and here I thought the solar cycle wasn't going to be bad...

    William....are we looking at another potential doomsday scenario here because of these ejections?
    Yes, it does appear likely there will be a CME ejection that is a similar magnitude to the "Carrington Event". The Carrington Event occur because the solar magnetic cycle was interrupted. Solar cycle 24 has not a gradual slow down in solar activity. Solar activity during the last 50 years of the 20th century is the highest in 8000 years. The solar observational evidence supports the assertion that the solar magnetic cycle has been interrupted.

    It is possible to mitigate the consequences of a Carrington Event, however, the preparation work requires specific electrical grid changes and would require a plan to completely shut down the electrical grid.


    http://science.nasa.gov/science-news...oaaprediction/

    "Even a below-average cycle is capable of producing severe space weather," points out Biesecker. "The great geomagnetic storm of 1859, for instance, occurred during a solar cycle of about the same size we’re predicting for 2013."

    The 1859 storm--known as the "Carrington Event" after astronomer Richard Carrington who witnessed the instigating solar flare--electrified transmission cables, set fires in telegraph offices, and produced Northern Lights so bright that people could read newspapers by their red and green glow. A recent report by the National Academy of Sciences found that if a similar storm occurred today, it could cause $1 to 2 trillion in damages to society's high-tech infrastructure and require four to ten years for complete recovery. For comparison, Hurricane Katrina caused "only" $80 to 125 billion in damage.
    Last edited by William; 2011-Feb-19 at 07:17 PM.

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    That's just great to hear...I can imagine some people are going to love taking advantage of this.

    About what time do you think this will happen and do we even have enough time to prepare for it?

    Because unlike the other hoaxes out there, this has got me freaked out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tenshu View Post
    That's just great to hear...I can imagine some people are going to love taking advantage of this.

    About what time do you think this will happen and do we even have enough time to prepare for it?

    Because unlike the other hoaxes out there, this has got me freaked out.
    We are and will see more of the strong CME ejections that can destroy satellite communication. I would expect powerfully CME to continue over the next 5 years as cycle 24 peaks and then fades. The current CME ejection are caused by the distortion of the weak magnetic ropes as they pass through the solar convection zone. Counter intuitively a weak magnetic rope can produce a very strong CME as it is distorted as it passes through the convection zone, as the distortion produces a complex magnetic field that is not stable.

    There is very little information or analysis concerning the mechanism behind the once in 400 year and once in 1470 year events. The once in 400 year and once in 1470 years events are unimaginable stronger than a strong CME ejection that can destroy satellites. I see the observational evidence which supports the assertion that they do occur, but have difficulty trying to qualify the magnitude of the events and how there occurrence would affect a modern civilization. As noted above I believe the effect would be similar to the electromagnetic pulses that would be produced if scores of nuclear weapons, were detonated in the high atmosphere.

    Based on what we are observing now, it would appear the very, very, strong CME ejections occur when an interrupted solar magnetic cycle restarts. It appears the magnetic ropes that rise up through the convection zone dissipate and equalize the sun. The rope mechanism is assumed to require a seed, a piece of strong magnetic filament from the past cycle. If the cycle is interrupted there are no longer seeds to create the magnetic ropes.

    I would speculate and hope the very, very, strong CME ejections will not occur in the next 10 to 15 years, assuming there will be a build up and then a release as the solar magnetic cycle restarts.

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    ^The more I try to understand, the more i just get confused.

    All I can say at this point is, this has me freaked out not only because of the risk we could lose power for years, but because of the mass panic it would cause, after all people have become so dependant on electric technology that if a huge area lost power for such a long period of time, it wouldn't lead to anything good, sure we may survive but without electricity...I can only imagine what would the masses would do.

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    Good news and bad news based on past solar observations.

    First the bad. It does appear the solar magnetic cycle has been interrupted and the restart will generate unbelievably strong CME.

    Good: It appears the restart of the cycle may take an number of decades if solar cycle follows the Maunder minimum or Dalton restart.

    http://science.nasa.gov/media/medial...derminimum.jpg

    http://science.nasa.gov/media/medial...derminimum.jpg

    http://science.nasa.gov/science-news...espaceweather/

    The strongest geomagnetic storm on record is the Carrington Event of August-September 1859, named after British astronomer Richard Carrington who witnessed the instigating solar flare with his unaided eye while he was projecting an image of the sun on a white screen. Geomagnetic activity triggered by the explosion electrified telegraph lines, shocking technicians and setting their telegraph papers on fire; Northern Lights spread as far south as Cuba and Hawaii; auroras over the Rocky Mountains were so bright, the glow woke campers who began preparing breakfast because they thought it was morning. Best estimates rank the Carrington Event as 50% or more stronger than the superstorm of May 1921.
    "A contemporary repetition of the Carrington Event would cause … extensive social and economic disruptions," the report warns. Power outages would be accompanied by radio blackouts and satellite malfunctions; telecommunications, GPS navigation, banking and finance, and transportation would all be affected. Some problems would correct themselves with the fading of the storm: radio and GPS transmissions could come back online fairly quickly. Other problems would be lasting: a burnt-out multi-ton transformer, for instance, can take weeks or months to repair. The total economic impact in the first year alone could reach $2 trillion, some 20 times greater than the costs of a Hurricane Katrina or, to use a timelier example, a few TARPs.


    The problem begins with the electric power grid. "Electric power is modern society's cornerstone technology on which virtually all other infrastructures and services depend," the report notes. Yet it is particularly vulnerable to bad space weather. Ground currents induced during geomagnetic storms can actually melt the copper windings of transformers at the heart of many power distribution systems. Sprawling power lines act like antennas, picking up the currents and spreading the problem over a wide area. The most famous geomagnetic power outage happened during a space storm in March 1989 when six million people in Quebec lost power for 9 hours: image.

    To estimate the scale of such a failure, report co-author John Kappenmann of the Metatech Corporation looked at the great geomagnetic storm of May 1921, which produced ground currents as much as ten times stronger than the 1989 Quebec storm, and modeled its effect on the modern power grid. He found more than 350 transformers at risk of permanent damage and 130 million people without power. The loss of electricity would ripple across the social infrastructure with "water distribution affected within several hours; perishable foods and medications lost in 12-24 hours; loss of heating/air conditioning, sewage disposal, phone service, fuel re-supply and so on." "The concept of interdependency," the report notes, "is evident in the unavailability of water due to long-term outage of electric power--and the inability to restart an electric generator without water on site."


    The solar superstorm of 1859 was the fiercest ever recorded. Auroras filled the sky as far south as the Caribbean, magnetic compasses went haywire and telegraph systems failed.
    http://www.leif.org/research/Gleissberg-McCracken.pdf

    Solar cosmic ray events for the period 1561-1994 2. The Gleissberg periodicity

    Ice cores suggest that such a blast of solar particles happens only once every 500 years, but even the storms every 50 years could fry satellites, jam radios and cause coast-to-coast blackouts. The cost of such an event justifies more systematic solar monitoring and beefier protection for satellites and the power grid. The authors have reconstructed what happened in 1859, based in part on similar (though less intense) events seen by modern satellites. UTC is Coordinated Universal Time—basically, Greenwich Mean Time.

  19. #19
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    Tenshu,

    From much of what William has posted in the past, I wouldn't lose sleep over any of this. Many of the conclusions are speculative, and even if they bear out, there's not much you can do about any of it. I'd pour my energy into something constructive, fun and/or edifying.

    CJSF
    "Soon the man who sweeps the room brings the secret telegram, 'COMMENCE OFFICIAL INTERPLANETARY EXPLORATION.' "
    -They Might Be Giants, "Destination Moon"

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by William View Post
    Good news and bad news based on past solar observations.

    First the bad. It does appear the solar magnetic cycle has been interrupted and the restart will generate unbelievably strong CME.

    Good: It appears the restart of the cycle may take an number of decades if solar cycle follows the Maunder minimum or Dalton restart
    So what does that mean? it's gonna be decades before the CME hits us thus we need to prepare, or it hits us soon and we have decades to fix everything?

    Quote Originally Posted by CJSF View Post
    Tenshu,

    From much of what William has posted in the past, I wouldn't lose sleep over any of this. Many of the conclusions are speculative, and even if they bear out, there's not much you can do about any of it. I'd pour my energy into something constructive, fun and/or edifying
    The problem is unlike things like Nibiru, this to me is serious because if we lose power for up to years as William is implying, alot of people would end up going mad from such a power loss, myself most likely included because of how electrical dependant humans are now.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tenshu View Post
    ... this to me is serious because if we lose power for up to years as William is implying, a lot of people would end up going mad from such a power loss, myself most likely included because of how electrical dependent humans are now.
    This part of the discussion is pretty removed from the title of this thread. Do you want to split it off and move it somewhere more appropriate?

    That being said, It would make sense to rework our infrastructure to tolerate such an event. Some of those changes will be quite costly. As a side note, people living off the grid using PV for power should survive quite well. Also as a plus, our fiber-optic communications networks will not carry induced currents.

    In the end we end up making political decisions about what risks we want to prepare for.
    Forming opinions as we speak

  22. #22
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    I will start a new thread in Science to discuss the consequences of long term loss of the electrical grid, ground base computer equipment, and satellites as a result of a very large CME (solar coronal mass ejection) or solar flare.

    Let's leave this thread to discuss the solar 24 observations. As noted above solar 24 is an unexplained abrupt slow down in the solar magnetic cycle.

    Counter intuitively, the largest CME ejections and largest flares have occurred during weak solar magnetic cycles and during the period of transition from a strong cycle to a weak cycle.

    The solar magnetic cycle strength was the strongest in roughly 8000 years during the later half of the 20th century. The solar magnetic cycle appears to be changing back to a low cycle.

    As noted above Livingston and Penn's analysis indicates that each newly formed sunspot in solar cycle 24 (starting about 1998) had and has less and less magnetic field strength which indicates the mechanism that creates the magnetic ropes deep within the solar interior has been interrupted. The magnetic ropes when released float up through the turbulent solar convection zone to the sun's surface where they form sunspots. The magnetic ropes require a calculate strength of 3000 gauss to avoid being torn apart in as they rise in the through the convection zone.

    The recent sunspots are distorted and asymmetrical forming an unstable magnetic field configuration which then releases a solar flare.

    What creates a solar CME (coronal mass ejection) is not known. The coronal mass ejection is a massive release of high velocity ions (a plasma) that travels through space striking the earth's ionosphere creating a space charge differential in the ionosphere. The space charge differential creates massive electric currents through the ionosphere and from the ionosphere to the surface of the planet.

    This paper discusses the cyclic occurrence of very strong (solar coronal mass ejections) CME and solar flares. As noted in the paper, the frequency of occurrence of strong CME during the space age period was significantly less than in the past. As noted very strong CME ejection occur when the solar magnetic cycle is weak not strong.

    http://www.leif.org/research/Gleissberg-McCracken.pdf

  23. #23
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    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...0302131859.htm

    The case of the disappearing sunspots appears to have not been solved.

    Solar Mystery of Missing Sunspots Explained
    (My comment: Not? See David Hathaway’s comment. Hathaway’s comment is the observations do not support the author's conclusion.)

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal...ture09786.html

    The unusual minimum of sunspot cycle 23 caused by meridional plasma flow variations
    David Hathaway said:

    This theoretical model is diametrically opposed to the observations of Hathaway & Rightmire (2010) Science, 327, 1350. Our observations represent the most accurate and complete measurements of the meridional flow over solar cycle 23 and indicate that the flow was slow at the start of the cycle and fast at the end; the opposite of what this theoretical model requires. The authors' comments on our observations can be found only in the supplemental information; hidden from view for most readers. They suggest that the variations we measure are irrelevant because they only represent the near surface layers. Yet, their entire meridional circulation system is built on the flow observed in these very same layers. If they want to match the speed of the flow at the base of the convection zone to the equatorward drift of the sunspot latitude zones by using the surface layer flow speed then they should agree that the variations in the surface flow speed represent the variations in the deeper layers as well.

    Unfortunately for their model, to accept this means their model is in conflict with the observations.
    Last edited by William; 2011-Mar-06 at 03:49 AM.

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