Archive for the ‘research’ Category

Solar flare [credit: NASA]


Even though the current solar cycle (SC 24) is well-known for its relatively low level of sunspots, it can still produce surprisingly powerful bursts of ‘counter-intuitive’ activity, causing solar scientists to put their thinking caps on.

A series of rapid-fire solar flares is providing the first chance to test a new theory of why the sun releases its biggest outbursts when its activity is ramping down, says Science News.

Migrating bands of magnetism that meet at the sun’s equator may cause the biggest flares, even as the sun is going to sleep. A single complex sunspot called Active Region 2673 emitted seven bright flares — powerful bursts of radiation triggered by magnetic activity — from September 4 to September 10.

Four were X-class solar flares, the most intense kind.

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Mercury [image credit: NASA]


The first photos of ice at Mercury’s poles were released in 2014 but this research goes a step further, as Phys.org reports. It finds that ‘the total area of the three sheets [is] about 3,400 square kilometers—slightly larger than the state of Rhode Island’.

The scorching hot surface of Mercury seems like an unlikely place to find ice, but research over the past three decades has suggested that water is frozen on the first rock from the sun, hidden away on crater floors that are permanently shadowed from the sun’s blistering rays.

Now, a new study led by Brown University researchers suggests that there could be much more ice on Mercury’s surface than previously thought.

The study, published in Geophysical Research Letters, adds three new members to the list of craters near Mercury’s north pole that appear to harbor large surface ice deposits.

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Hurricanes, AMO , And Sahel Droughts

Posted: September 10, 2017 by oldbrew in climate, research, Uncertainty, weather
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What really drives Atlantic hurricanes? Paul Homewood looks at some relevant research.

NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW THAT

By Paul Homewood

Reader Dermot Flaherty questioned the relationship of ENSO to the Atlantic hurricane season.

There are indeed many factors which affect hurricane activity. As leading hurricane expert Chris Landsea stated in his 1999 paper “Atlantic Basin Hurricanes: Indices of Climatic Changes”:

Various environmental factors including Caribbean sea level pressures and 200mb zonal winds, the stratospheric Quasi-Biennial Oscillation, the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, African West Sahel rainfall and Atlantic sea surface temperatures, are analyzed for interannual links to the Atlantic hurricane activity. All show significant, concurrent relationships to the frequency, intensity and duration of Atlantic hurricanes.

Landsea goes on:

Finally, much of the multidecadal hurricane activity can be linked to the Atlantic Multidecadal Mode – an empirical orthogonal function pattern derived from a global sea surface temperature record.

View original post 1,270 more words


The researchers say ship exhaust can alter thunderstorm intensity. They seem to have ignored the fact that ships on the open seas have always been a natural target for lightning.

Thunderstorms directly above two of the world’s busiest shipping lanes are significantly more powerful than storms in areas of the ocean where ships don’t travel, according to new research reported at Phys.org.

A new study mapping lightning around the globe finds lightning strokes occur nearly twice as often directly above heavily-trafficked shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea than they do in areas of the ocean adjacent to shipping lanes that have similar climates.

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Image credit: BBC News


No evidence for the Prince’s Syrian refugees theory but plenty that he’s a serial climate alarmist.

Scientists have accused the Prince of Wales of exaggerating the link between climate change and the civil war in Syria, says The Times (via the GWPF).

A new study found no evidence for the widely publicised theory that climate change was a factor in causing the war, in which more than 300,000 people have died and 11 million have been forced to leave their homes.

The researchers said making “overblown claims” based on poor evidence fuelled scepticism about the need for action on climate change, undermining the cause the prince was advancing.

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As the Talkshop reaches the milestone of 5 million visits, do we hear echoes of Scotty of Star Trek fame: ‘Ye cannae change the laws of physics’? Does fundamental mean universal – or could some ‘laws’ depend on where you look in the universe? Meanwhile Tallbloke is boldly going…somewhere… 😎

A study that will ‘test our understanding of how the Universe works, particularly outside the relatively narrow confines of our planet’ is being undertaken by an international team of researchers led by the University of Leicester, reports Phys.org.

The research probes whether the fundamental laws of physics are the same everywhere in the universe.

In their new study, the Leicester-led team assesses whether these laws are the same within the hot, dense conditions in the atmosphere of a dying white dwarf star as here on Earth.

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The El Niño of 1997-8


Another paper attempting to shed some light on the mysteries of long-term cyclical climate patterns is brought to our attention by the GWPF. The abstract looks fair but there are a few nods in the direction of ‘greenhouse gases’ later in the paper, in particular related to what they identify as millennial signals.

Abstract
The identification of causal effects is a fundamental problem in climate change research. Here, a new perspective on climate change causality is presented using the central England temperature (CET) dataset, the longest instrumental temperature record, and a combination of slow feature analysis and wavelet analysis.

The driving forces of climate change were investigated and the results showed two independent degrees of freedom —a 3.36-year cycle and a 22.6-year cycle, which seem to be connected to the El Niño–Southern Oscillation cycle and the Hale sunspot cycle, respectively.

Moreover, these driving forces were modulated in amplitude by signals with millennial timescales.
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Texan wetland [image credit: Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept.]


This study reported on the U.S. East Coast, but all ideas for protection of increasingly populated coastal areas from severe weather should be under the microscope after the recent floods in Texas. Phys.org reporting.

With the Atlantic hurricane season well under way and Tropical Storm Harvey causing devastation in Texas, a new scientific study reports that coastal wetlands significantly reduce annual flood losses and catastrophic damages from storms.

Led by a team of scientists from the engineering, insurance, and conservation sectors, including researchers at UC Santa Cruz, the study found that coastal wetlands in the northeast United States prevented $625 million in direct flood damages during Hurricane Sandy, reducing damages by more than 22 percent in half of the affected areas and by as much as 30 percent in some states.

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Cassini probe at Saturn
[credit: NASA]


NASA’s Cassini space probe is still sending back useful data before it ends its 20 year mission by diving into the unexplored Saturnian atmosphere.

The spectacular rings of Saturn may be relatively young, perhaps just 100 million years or so old, says BBC News.

This is the early interpretation of data gathered by the Cassini spacecraft on its final orbits of the giant world. If confirmed, it means we are looking at Saturn at a very special time in the age of the Solar System.

Cassini is scheduled to make only two more close-in passes before driving itself to destruction in Saturn’s atmosphere on 15 September. The probe is being disposed of in this way because it will soon run out of fuel.

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Credit: phys.org


If there was any life left in this climate change scare story, this latest research should finally see it off.

Clathrate (hydrate) gun hypothesis stirred quite the controversy when it was posed in 2003, as ScienceDaily reports. It stated that methane hydrates — frozen water cages containing methane gas found below the ocean floor — can melt due to increasing ocean temperatures.

According to the hypothesis this melt can happen in a time span of a human life, dissociating vast amounts of hydrate and releasing methane into the atmosphere.

Consequently, this would lead to a runaway process, where the methane released would add to the global budget of greenhouse gases, and further accelerate the warming of the planet.

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2017 eclipse path over US [credit: NASA — click on image to enlarge]


Time to go fishing for insights into eclipse phenomena, thanks to a loan of specialized US Navy comms equipment.

On Monday, just as CU Denver began the new academic year, an awe-inspiring solar eclipse captivated people across North America, reports Phys.org.

A thin line of total solar coverage spanned, at various intervals, the continental United States, completely blocking out the sun from Lincoln Beach, Ore., to Charleston, S.C., for a few remarkable minutes.

Mark Golkowski, PhD, acting chair and associate professor of Electrical Engineering in the College of Engineering and Applied Science at CU Denver, and several students collected data during this rare celestial event by using state-of-the-art Naval submarine communication technology.

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Some Pythagorean triples [credit: Cmglee / Wikipedia]


Could Babylonian base-60 maths be about to make a comeback? The tablet has been dated to between 1822 and 1762 BC and is based on Pythagorean triples, as Phys.org reports. It uses ‘a novel kind of trigonometry based on ratios, not angles and circles’.

UNSW Sydney scientists have discovered the purpose of a famous 3700-year old Babylonian clay tablet, revealing it is the world’s oldest and most accurate trigonometric table, possibly used by ancient mathematical scribes to calculate how to construct palaces and temples and build canals.

The new research shows the Babylonians beat the Greeks to the invention of trigonometry – the study of triangles – by more than 1000 years, and reveals an ancient mathematical sophistication that had been hidden until now.

Known as Plimpton 322, the small tablet was discovered in the early 1900s in what is now southern Iraq by archaeologist, academic, diplomat and antiquities dealer Edgar Banks, the person on whom the fictional character Indiana Jones was based.

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Sunspots [image credit: NASA]


One of the authors of the research says: “The results of our study show us that we have identified the governing parameters in our model”. Both climate and exoplanet research could benefit from the findings.

The Sun shines from the heavens, seemingly calm and unvarying. In fact, it doesn’t always shine with uniform brightness, but shows dimmings and brightenings, reports Phys.org.

Two phenomena alone are responsible for these fluctuations: the magnetic fields on the visible surface and gigantic plasma currents, bubbling up from the star’s interior.

A team headed by the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Göttingen reports this result in today’s issue of Nature Astronomy. For the first time, the scientists have managed to reconstruct fluctuations in brightness on all time scales observed to date – from minutes up to decades.

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Credit: NASA


Among other findings, solar EUV [extreme ultraviolet radiation] turns out to be a greater planetary force than expected in this new research. Also the bow shock is greater the nearer Mars gets to the Sun during its orbit.

As the energetic particles of the solar wind speed across interplanetary space, their motion is modified by objects in their path. A study, based on data from ESA’s Mars Express orbiter, has thrown new light on a surprising interaction between the planet Mars and supersonic particles in the solar wind, reports Phys.org.

Scientists have long been aware that a feature known as a bow shock
forms upstream of a planet – rather like the bow of a ship, where the water is slowed and then diverted around the obstacle.

The bow shock marks a fairly sharp boundary where the solar wind slows suddenly as it begins to plough into a planet’s magnetosphere or outer atmosphere.

In the case of Mars, which does not generate a global magnetic field and has a thin atmosphere, the main obstacle to the solar wind is the ionosphere – a region of electrically charged particles in its upper atmosphere.

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Sydney, Australia


Sounds promising, but can these batteries make the leap from hearing aids to machinery in general? Developments – if any – awaited.

Zinc-air batteries are an enticing prospect thanks to their high energy density and the fact they’re made with some of the most common materials on Earth, says New Atlas.

Unfortunately, those advantages are countered by how difficult it is to recharge these cells. Now, a team at the University of Sydney has created new catalysts out of abundant elements that could see rechargeable zinc-air batteries vying with lithium-ion batteries in mobile devices.

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Diesel car engine


Diesels are in need of some good news after all the recent negative press. The researchers believe their findings are of ‘major environmental importance’.

Researchers have discovered a new reaction mechanism that could be used to improve catalyst designs for pollution control systems to further reduce emissions of smog-causing nitrogen oxides in diesel exhaust, as Phys.org reports.

The research focuses on a type of catalyst called zeolites, workhorses in petroleum and chemical refineries and in emission-control systems for diesel engines.

New catalyst designs are needed to reduce the emission of nitrogen oxides, or NOx, because current technologies only work well at relatively high temperatures.

“The key challenge in reducing emissions is that they can occur over a very broad range of operating conditions, and especially exhaust temperatures,” said Rajamani Gounder, the Larry and Virginia Faith Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering in Purdue University’s Davidson School of Chemical Engineering.

“Perhaps the biggest challenge is related to reducing NOx at low exhaust temperatures, for example during cold start or in congested urban driving.”

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Credit: inhabitat.com


Another green dream has crumbled in the face of inconvenient reality, defeated by biology, as Yahoo News reports. Research shows it is neither commercially nor environmentally sustainable, unless the equivalent of three Belgiums and a mountain of fertilizer can be found.

Modern biofuels have been touted as a greener alternative to petrol and diesel since the early 1900s. It seems like a good idea on paper, and they do work – but their use and production doesn’t come without problems.

The first generation of biofuels – mainly ethanol made from plant crops – and second generation, derived from plant and animal waste streams, both had environmentalists and others concerned about the competition for land and nutrients between biofuels production and food production.

It was with a lot of hope, and hype, that production of the third generation of biofuels was started. Unlike their predecessors, these biofuels are derived from algae, and so in theory the food vs fuel dilemma of crop-based biofuels would be solved.

Fossil fuel oil and gas originated from ancient algae in large measure, so the concept here is to replicate the essence of the creation of fossil fuels, albeit accelerated and optimised with modern chemical engineering. It was claimed that using algae would be much more efficient than creating biofuels from terrestrial plants and that the technology would make use of poor quality land not able to grow other crops.

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Credit: wisegeek.com


Long-term natural climate variation just won’t go away, as this report at phys.org shows.

A great deal of evidence relating to ancient climate variation is preserved in proxy data such as tree rings, lake sediments, ice cores, stalagmites, corals and historical documents, and these sources have great significance in evaluating 20th century climate warming in the context of the last two millennia.

Prof. Quansheng Ge and his group from the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, collected a large number of proxies and reconstructed a 2000-year temperature series in China with a 10-year resolution, enabling them to quantitatively reveal the characteristics of temperature change in China over a common era.

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These two 1977 vintage machines really are ‘cosmic overachievers’ as this Phys.org report calls them. Voyager 1 reached interstellar space in 2012, but the last science instrument is not due to be switched off until 2030.

Humanity’s farthest and longest-lived spacecraft, Voyager 1 and 2, achieve 40 years of operation and exploration this August and September.

Despite their vast distance, they continue to communicate with NASA daily, still probing the final frontier. Their story has not only impacted generations of current and future scientists and engineers, but also Earth’s culture, including film, art and music.

Each spacecraft carries a Golden Record of Earth sounds, pictures and messages. Since the spacecraft could last billions of years, these circular time capsules could one day be the only traces of human civilization.

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