Cosmic Rays Continue To Intensify As Historic Solar Minimum Approaches

Posted: March 19, 2018 by oldbrew in solar system dynamics
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There may be consequences for electrical activity on Earth, as well as space radiation changes.

The Next Grand Minimum

Meteorologist Paul Dorian, Vencore, Inc.

All indications are that the upcoming solar minimum which is expected to begin in 2019 may be even quieter than the last one which was the deepest in nearly a century. One of the natural impacts of decreasing solar activity is the weakening of the ambient solar wind and its magnetic field which, in turn, allows more and more cosmic rays to penetrate the solar system. The intensification of cosmic rays can have important consequences on such things as Earth’s cloud cover and climate, the safety of our astronauts exploring in space, and lightning.

SIDC+DailySunspotNumberSince1900Daily observations of the number of sunspots since 1 January 1900 according to Solar Influences Data Analysis Center (SIDC). The thin blue line indicates the daily sunspot number, while the dark blue line indicates the running annual average. The recent low sunspot activity is clearly reflected in the recent low values…

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Comments
  1. ren says:

    Another wave of frost reaches northern Scandinavia.

  2. oldbrew says:

    “Over the last decade, the solar wind has exhibited low densities and magnetic field strengths, representing anomalous states that have never been observed during the Space Age. As a result of this remarkably weak solar activity, we have also observed the highest fluxes of cosmic rays.”

    The Van Allen belts will be doing overtime…

    The charged particles in cosmic rays are deflected by the magnetic field and many are prevented from hitting the atmosphere directly. Some are trapped into two concentric doughnut-like bands around the Earth called the Van Allen Belts, discovered in 1958 by the American satellite: Explorer 1.

    http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Human_Spaceflight/Lessons_online/The_effects_of_magnetic_fields

    Vencore Weather says: there has been a 13% increase of stratospheric radiation over California from March 2015 to Jan 2018. [see blog post above]

  3. ren says:

    Since cosmic rays are a kind of radiation, they can hurt people and machines. Lucky for us, Earth’s magnetic field and atmosphere protect us from most cosmic rays. On average, people get hit with about 2.3 millisieverts of radiation each year. A millisievert is a unit for measuring radiation. It is abbreviated mSv. Cosmic rays make up about 0.2 mSv of the radiation we get each year. That isn’t very much; less than 10% of the total. Astronauts do have to worry about cosmic rays, though. If astronauts travel away from Earth (to the Moon or Mars, for example), they aren’t protected by Earth’s magnetic field any more. They could get hit by as much as 900 mSv of cosmic ray radiation in a year! Cosmic rays can damage our DNA and cause cancer and radiation sickness. Scientists will have to figure out how to protect astronauts from cosmic rays before we can send a mission to Mars.

    When cosmic rays hit Earth’s atmosphere, they crash into atoms and molecules of gas. That usually makes even more cosmic ray particles! Since there are more particles, the energy from the cosmic ray from space is spread out. The new cosmic ray particles often hit other gas molecules. That makes still more cosmic rays, but with lower energies. The collisions between cosmic rays and gases in the atmosphere can happen many times. In the end, there might be thousands or millions of “secondary” cosmic rays. This is called an “air shower” of cosmic rays.

    Earth doesn’t always get hit by the same number of cosmic rays. Strangely, cosmic rays are less of a problem when the Sun is most active. Sometimes there are more solar flares and other “space weather storms”; sometimes there are fewer. The Sun has a cycle that is 11 years long. At “solar max” the Sun is very active; at “solar min” there are very few “storms” on the Sun. Since some cosmic rays come from the Sun, you might think that there is more danger from cosmic rays when the Sun is active. Good guess; but wrong! When the Sun is active, it “puffs up” its heliosphere. Like Earth’s magnetic field, the Sun’s magnetic field helps shield us from galactic and extragalactic cosmic rays. So an active Sun means better shielding! So, if you’re an astronaut, the best time to be going on a long trip in space is when the Sun is most active.
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/281441974_Geomagnetic_Field_and_Climate_Causal_Relations_with_Some_Atmospheric_Variables

  4. ren says:

    The current figures below show the NAIRAS prediction of the radiation exposure quantity related to biological risk – Effective dose rate (uSv/hr) – at several altitudes and flight paths. To put the exposure rates into perspective, one chest X-ray is about 100 uSv, and a CT scan is about 8,000 uSv.
    http://sol.spacenvironment.net/nairas/Dose_Rates.html

  5. ren says:

    Climate formation processes have been considered as depending on the rate of creation of electric charges at cloud tops by the ionosphere-ground (air-earth) current in AEC which can be sensitive to CR variations. These results demonstrate the need for studying the response of AEC to the modulations of CR by solar wind.

    The influence of CR on AEC is realized mainly through the atmospheric conductivity which is a result of ionization. GCR of energies <10^11 eV are the only factor of ionization of the air between 5 km and 35 km, and have a contribution to the ionization up to 90 km in the daytime and up to 100 km at night, i.e. GCR are necessary for creation and maintenance of AEC. Their 11-year variations during the solar cycle lead to changes in stratospheric conductivity, so that it is larger during solar minimum than during solar maximum, respectively. The relative factor of solar cycle change of the stratospheric conductivity is about 3% at equatorial, 10% at tropics, 20% at middle, and 50% at high and polar latitudes (according to the results of Velinov & Mateev 1990). This leads to a small decrease of the average air-earth current at polar latitudes during solar maximums compared to solar minimums. At equatorial and low latitudes the variation of the air-earth current will be yet smaller. Larger atmospheric conductivity changes, involving larger range of altitudes (possibly, tropospheric) take place during a Forbush decreases of GCR and especially during a SEP events.
    https://www.swsc-journal.org/articles/swsc/full_html/2013/01/swsc120040/swsc120040.html

    "The influence of CR on AEC is realized mainly through the atmospheric conductivity which is a result of ionization. GCR of energies <10^11 eV are the only factor of ionization of the air between 5 km and 35 km."

  6. oldbrew says:

    NASA: What is Kp?

    Kp is the planetary k index. There are many stations that measure electric current at relatively low latitudes around the world. Based on the measurements at any one time, a complex formula yields a single number that gives scientists an idea of how much space weather is present and how it affects the plasmasphere at any one time.

    http://plasmasphere.nasa.gov/media/kp.html
    [see plasmasphere animation]
    – – –
    It’s the right time of year for ‘equinox cracks’…

    A 75-year study shows that March is the most geomagnetically active month of the year, followed closely by September-October–a direct result of “equinox cracks.”

    NASA and European spacecraft have been detecting these cracks for years. Small ones are about the size of California, and many are wider than the entire planet. While the cracks are open, magnetic fields on Earth are connected to those on the sun. [bold added]

    http://spaceweatherarchive.com/2018/03/12/equinox-cracks-forming-in-earths-magnetic-field/

  7. ren says:

    The current level of galactic radiation compared to the previous two solar minima. The minimum will now be the earliest in 2019.

  8. ren says:

    Solar Dipole from WSO.

  9. stpaulchuck says:

    lower solar output, greater cosmic ray intensity, greater average cloud cover, lower insolation, lower temperatures – that’s from real world science

    BUT WAIT! we’ve got to do something about CO2 and the satanic gases before the Earth catches fire! Or something. I read the web press daily and after years I am observing the planet getting nuttier and nuttier while mainstream science turns to science fiction. Anybody got a map to Galt’s Gulch?

  10. Richard111 says:

    stpaulchuck: +10