Archive for the ‘cosmic rays’ Category

Credit: Institute of Physics

This looks like progress, although more research will be needed to try to better understand how the relevant effects work in practice.
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A new study published in Nature Scientific Reports by researchers at the Danish National Space Institute at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem suggests that the Sun’s activity in screening cosmic rays affects clouds and, ultimately, the Earth’s energy budget with concomitant climatic effects, says David Whitehouse @ NetZeroWatch.

This research, by Henrik Svensmark, Jacob Svensmark, Martin Bødker Enghoff, and Nir Shaviv supports 25 years of discoveries that point to a significant role for cosmic rays in climate change.

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An IPCC scientist on twitter alerted me to this animation created by Chris Rentsch which analyses the data from the AIRS satellite measuring outgoing longwave radiation.

Here’s a still from the end of the video sequence.

As we can see, by 2019, there is a decrease in OLR at the wavelengths absorbed by CO2 (13-15um) as its atmospheric fraction increases. But we can also see that there is a much bigger increase in OLR at the wavelengths within the ‘atmospheric window’ (10-13um) where it isn’t absorbed by any atmospheric gases.

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solarflare

Solar flare erupting from a sunspot [image credit: space.com]

Using trees as solar cycle and cosmic ray detectors here. The researchers say: ‘Notably, other evidence suggests that the sun was also undergoing a decades-long period of increasing activity.’ We may ask, with a view to the current era: how often does that happen, and why?
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The sun constantly emits a stream of energetic particles, some of which reach Earth, says Phys.org.

The density and energy of this stream form the basis of space weather, which can interfere with the operation of satellites and other spacecraft.

A key unresolved question in the field is the frequency with which the sun emits bursts of energetic particles strong enough to disable or destroy space-based electronics.

One promising avenue for determining the rate of such events is the dendrochronological record. This approach relies on the process by which a solar energetic particle (SEP) strikes the atmosphere, causing a chain reaction that results in the production of an atom of carbon-14.

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Which brings us back to the old conundrum: do cosmic rays affect the Earth’s weather / climate, and if so, how and how much?

Spaceweather.com

August 11, 2020: Cosmic rays are bad–and they’re probably going to get worse.

That’s the conclusion of a new study entitled “Galactic Cosmic Radiation in Interplanetary Space Through a Modern Secular Minimum” just published in the journal Space Weather.

“During the next solar cycle, we could see cosmic ray dose rates increase by as much as 75%,” says lead author Fatemeh Rahmanifard of the University of New Hampshire’s Space Science Center. “This will limit the amount of time astronauts can work safely in interplanetary space.”

spacewalk

Cosmic rays are the bane of astronauts. They come from deep space, energetic particles hurled in all directions by supernova explosions and other violent events. No amount of spacecraft shielding can stop the most energetic particles, leaving astronauts exposed whenever they leave the Earth-Moon system.

Back in the 1990s, astronauts could travel through space for as much as 1000 days before they…

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Browsing twitter recently I ran across this short video of a solar flare shot a few days ago.

After asking for some clarification on frame rate I was really intrigued.

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Possible link between cosmic rays and ‘sprites’ as Earth experiences the solar minimum.

Spaceweather.com

April 23, 2020: A series of unusually severe spring storms parading across the southeastern USA has residents taking shelter from golf-ball sized hail and dangerous tornadoes. High above the maelstrom, sprites are dancing. Paul M. Smith of Edmond, Oklahoma, captured these specimens on April 22nd.

“There were tornado warnings and very large hail throughout the night,” says Smith. “I photographed the sprites through a clearing around midnight.”

Sprites are a form of electricity in powerful storm clouds. While regular lightning lances down, sprites leap up. They can reach all the way to the edge of space 90 km or more above Earth’s surface. Spring thunderstorms often produce the year’s first big sprites, and the sightings continue through late summer.

“My camera was pointed toward Oklahoma City,” says Smith, “and the sprites were about 150 miles away.” This radar weather map shows shows the observing geometry:

When observing sprites, this kind…

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Saturn seen across a sea of methane on Titan by Huygens probe 2005


Some extracts from an article at Phys.org, bypassing the chemistry details. A research professor commented: “The process could be universal”. Interesting…
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Planetary scientists using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) revealed the secrets of the atmosphere of Titan, the largest moon of Saturn.

The team found a chemical footprint in Titan’s atmosphere indicating that cosmic rays coming from outside the Solar System affect the chemical reactions involved in the formation of nitrogen-bearing organic molecules.

This is the first observational confirmation of such processes, and impacts the understanding of the intriguing environment of Titan.

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Volcanic eruption


How good is the evidence for such a connection, and what theories do we have? Does a really low solar minimum – like now – make a difference? Here’s PW’s overview of its article.

Over the long term, the sun is the main driver of weather and climate on Earth and it is also directly connected to such phenomenon as the aurora borealis also known as the northern lights, upper atmospheric “high-latitude blocking”, and the influx of cosmic rays into Earth’s atmosphere, says Perspecta Weather.

The aurora borealis tends to occur more often during times of increased solar activity though they can actually take place at any time of a solar cycle.

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As this is going on, cosmic rays are near a record high since measurements began. Researchers are using natural cosmic rays this time.

CERN’s colossal complex of accelerators is in the midst of a two-year shutdown for upgrade work.

But that doesn’t mean all experiments at the Laboratory have ceased to operate.

The CLOUD experiment, for example, has just started a data run that will last until the end of November, reports Phys.org.

The CLOUD experiment studies how ions produced by high-energy particles called cosmic rays affect aerosol particles, clouds and the climate.

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What, if anything, might this mean for the coming Northern Hemisphere winter?

Spaceweather.com

Oct. 3, 2019: Solar Minimum is underway, and it’s a deep one. Sunspot counts suggest it is one of the deepest minima of the past century. The sun’s magnetic field has become weak, allowing extra cosmic rays into the solar system. Neutron monitors at the Sodankyla Geophysical Observatory in Oulu, Finland, show that cosmic rays are percentage points away from a Space Age record:

crinfo2

Researchers at the Sodankyla Geophysical Observatory have been monitoring cosmic rays since 1964. When cosmic rays hit Earth’s atmosphere, they produce a spray of secondary particles that rain down on Earth’s surface. Among these particles are neutrons. Detectors in Oulu count neutrons as a proxy for cosmic rays.

As the top panel shows, cosmic rays naturally wax and wane with the 11-year solar cycle. During Solar Maximum cosmic rays are weak; during Solar Minimum they are strong. The Space Age record for cosmic rays was set…

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Are the increased cosmic rays of solar minimum at work here? A strong possibility it seems.

Spaceweather.com

August 30, 2019: You never know what you might see in the wake of a big storm. On Aug. 25th, Chinese astrophotographer Chao Shen of Shaoxing City went outside to photograph the Milky Way. A typhoon named “White Deer” had passed through the day before, and the storm clouds were parting. “I saw the stars–but that’s not all,” says Shen. “A Gigantic Jet leaped up right before my eyes!”

gj

Gigantic Jets are lightning-like discharges that spring from the tops of thunderstorms, reaching all the way to the edge of space. They’re related to sprites, but larger and more powerful.

“Shen definitely caught a Gigantic Jet,” confirms Oscar van der Velde of the Lightning Research Group at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya. “It looks like it may have reached as high as 90 km above the ground.”

“Gigantic Jets are much more rare than sprites,” says van der Velde. “While…

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Plus: how big will the bite of the ongoing solar minimum be, compared to the last one? We’re due to find out sometime soon.

Spaceweather.com

July 16, 2019: Note to astronauts: 2019 is not a good year to fly into deep space. In fact, it’s shaping up to be one of the worst of the Space Age.

The reason is, the solar cycle. One of the deepest Solar Minima of the past century is underway now. As the sun’s magnetic field weakens, cosmic rays from deep space are flooding into the solar system, posing potential health risks to astronauts.

NASA is monitoring the situation with a radiation sensor in lunar orbit. The Cosmic Ray Telescope for the Effects of Radiation (CRaTER) has been circling the Moon on NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft since 2009. Researchers have just published a paper in the journal Space Weather describing CRaTER’s latest findings.

lroAbove: An artist’s concept of Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

“The overall decrease in solar activity in this period has led to an increased flux of…

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An important new solar paper by Prof Valentina Zharkova and co-authors S. J. Shepherd, S. I. Zharkov & E. Popova  published in ‘Nature’ has incorporated the solar-planetary theory we’ve been researching and advancing here at the talkshop over the last decade. As well as further developing her previous double dynamo theory which now accounts for the last several millennium’s solar grand minima and maxima, she includes discussion of Fairbridge, Mackey, Shirley, Charvatova and Abreu et al’s work. Central to the new hypothesis is the motion of the Sun around the barycentre of the solar system, described as the Solar Inertial Motion [SIM].

Left plot: the example of SIM trajectories of the Sun about the barycenter calculated from 1950 until 210034. Right plot: the cone of expanding SIM orbits of the Sun35 with the top showing 2D orbit projections similar to the left plot. Here there are three complete SIM orbits of the Sun, each of which takes about 179 years. Each solar orbit consists of about eight, 22-year solar cycles35. The total time span is, therefore, three 179-year solar cycles31, or about 600 years. Source: Adapted from Mackey35. Reproduced with permission from the Coastal Education and Research Foundation, Inc

Following my discussion with her at dinner following her talk in London last year, Zharkova now agrees with us that the SIM induced by planetary motion affects sunspot production and solar activity levels.

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Mars-Earth comparison
[image credit: Wikipedia]


A manned trip to Mars is not looking like a good idea from a health point of view, according to this report.

An astronaut on a mission to Mars could receive radiation doses up to 700 times higher than on our planet—a major showstopper for the safe exploration of our solar system, says Phys.org.

A team of European experts is working with ESA to protect the health of future crews on their way to the Moon and beyond.

Earth’s magnetic field and atmosphere protect us from the constant bombardment of galactic cosmic rays—energetic particles that travel at close to the speed of light and penetrate the human body.

Cosmic radiation could increase cancer risks during long duration missions.

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A Perfect Storm of Cosmic Rays

Posted: April 25, 2019 by oldbrew in cosmic rays, solar system dynamics

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How high will the Earth’s cosmic ray count go this year?

Spaceweather.com

April 23, 2019: Ten years ago, NASA reported a “perfect storm of cosmic rays.” During the year 2009, radiation peppering Earth from deep space reached a 50-year high, registering levels never before seen during the Space Age.

It’s about to happen again.

Ground-based neutron monitors and high-altitude cosmic ray balloons are registering a new increase in cosmic rays. The Oulu neutron monitor in Finland, which has been making measurements since 1964, reports levels in April 2019 only percentage points below the Space Age maximum of 2009:

crinfo2 Source: The Sodankyla Geophysical Observatory in Oulu, Finland.

What’s going on? The answer is “Solar Minimum.” During the low phase of the 11-year solar cycle, the sun’s magnetic field and solar wind weaken. Cosmic rays find it easier to penetrate the inner solar system. In 2009, the sun experienced the deepest solar minimum in a century. Cosmic rays reaching Earth naturally surged.

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The author writes in his 40-page document: ‘This report is not meant to be an exhaustive representation of all the published papers related to a solar influence on Earth’s climate, but aims to give a clear presentation of the current knowledge on the link between solar activity and climate.’

Where does cosmic ray variation fit into the ‘big picture’ of solar influences on the Earth?

The Next Grand Minimum

I am still studying this paper but wanted to share and get your feedback

Executive Summary

Over the last twenty years there has been good progress in understanding the solar influ- ence on climate. In particular, many scientific studies have shown that changes in solar activ- ity have impacted climate over the whole Holocene period (approximately the last 10,000 years). A well-known example is the existence of high solar activity during the Medieval Warm Period, around the year 1000 AD, and the subsequent low levels of solar activity during the cold period, now called The Little Ice Age (1300–1850 AD). An important scientific task has been to quantify the solar impact on climate, and it has been found that over the eleven- year solar cycle the energy that enters the Earth’s system is of the order of 1.0–1.5 W/m2. This is nearly an order of magnitude larger than what would be…

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What effects might this have on so-called ‘climate change’? The next few years could be interesting as lower solar activity displaces the higher activity of the 1990s and early 2000s.

Spaceweather.com

Feb. 21, 2019:Cosmic rays in the stratosphere are intensifying for the 4th year in a row. This finding comes from a campaign of almost weekly high-altitude balloon launches conducted by the students of Earth to Sky Calculus. Since March 2015, there has been a ~13% increase in X-rays and gamma-rays over central California, where the students have launched hundreds of balloons.

neutronsandxrays2

The grey points in the graph are Earth to Sky balloon data. Overlaid on that time series is a record of neutron monitor data from the Sodankyla Geophysical Observatory in Oulu, Finland. The correlation between the two data sets is impressive, especially considering their wide geographic separation and differing methodologies. Neutron monitors have long been considered a “gold standard” for monitoring cosmic rays on Earth. This shows that our student-built balloons are gathering data of similar quality.

Why are cosmic rays increasing? The short answer is “Solar…

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A look at possible implications of current and continuing low solar activity.

The Next Grand Minimum

The is a very interesting 40-minute video presentation by Nir Shaviv on the solar-climate connection and cosmic rays.

Shaviv first presents the evidence that the sun affects climate before explaining the cosmic ray ideas.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9gjU1T4XL4

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A rapid-fire lecture on solar-planetary links, sunspots, volcanoes, ice cores, climate and a whole lot more, including a closer look at the Spörer Minimum.

Nir Shaviv is co-author along with Henrik Svensmark and others of a major new paper in Nature Communications titled Increased ionization supports growth of aerosols into cloud condensation nuclei. He has a write up at his Sciencebits blog. Here’s the introduction:

Our new results published today in nature communications provide the last piece of a long studied puzzle. We finally found the actual physical mechanism linking between atmospheric ionization and the formation of cloud condensation nuclei. Thus, we now understand the complete physical picture linking solar activity and our galactic environment (which govern the flux of cosmic rays ionizing the atmosphere) to climate here on Earth though changes in the cloud characteristics. In short, as small aerosols grow to become cloud condensation nuclei, they grow faster under higher background ionization rates. Consequently, they have a higher chance of surviving the growth without being eaten by larger aerosols. This effect was calculated theoretically and measured in a specially designed experiment conducted at the Danish Space Research Institute at the Danish Technical University, together with our colleagues Martin Andreas Bødker Enghoff and Jacob Svensmark.

shaviv-fig4

Figure 4: The correlation between the linearly detrended sea level measured using satellite altimetry (blue dots) and a model fit which includes just two components: The sun and el Niño southern oscillation. The excellent fit implies that the two components are by far the dominant source of sea level change on short time scales

Background:

It has long been known that solar variations appear to have a large effect on climate. This was already suggested by William Herschel over 200 years ago. Over the past several decades, more empirical evidence have unequivocally demonstrated the existence of such a link, as exemplified in the examples in the box below.

 

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