Archive for the ‘research’ Category

Grand Aletsch Glacier, Switzerland [Image credit: Wikipedia]


It’s not the conclusion some might be expecting…

Analysis of ice cores delivers continuous data for the first time on industrial soot from 1740 to today, reports HeritageDaily.

In the first half of the 19th century, a series of large volcanic eruptions in the tropics led to a temporary global cooling of Earth’s climate.

It was a natural process that caused Alpine glaciers to grow and subsequently recede again during the final phase of the so-called Little Ice Age.

This has now been proven by PSI researchers, on the basis of ice cores.

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Angkor Wat [image credit: Bjørn Christian Tørrissen @ Wikipedia]


What might the ‘abrupt climatic changes’ described here be due to?

The city may have been overstressed by climatic changes, leading to its rapid abandonment, says Discover magazine.

Angkor, one of the most significant archaeological sites in Southeast Asia, was a thriving metropolis at the center of the Khmer Empire in the 13th century. Then its inhabitants suddenly left town.

Now, researchers find abrupt climatic changes and vulnerable infrastructure led to the city’s demise.

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Credit: USGS


It turns out the influence of natural drivers of tropical belt expansion and contraction is ‘poorly understood’. The authors say: ‘Our results warn of potential socio-economic consequences of future variations in tropical belt width driven by natural climate variability or stratospheric aerosol injections, whether volcanic or artificial.’
H/T Phys.org

For the first time, scientists have traced the north-south shifts of the northern-most edge of the tropics back 800 years, reports a University of Arizona-led international team.

The movement of the tropical boundary affects the locations of Northern Hemisphere deserts including the Sonoran, Mohave and Saharan. Those deserts sit just north of the tropical belt, which includes the subtropics.

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Image credit: sanibelrealestateguide.com


A rating system that may lead people to misunderstand the likely impact of an approaching storm is obviously not satisfactory. So is there a better approach?

For decades, hurricanes have been rated on a scale of 1 to 5 based solely on a storm’s wind speeds.

But as recent hurricanes show, a tropical cyclone’s winds often tell us little about its real threats — coastal storm surge and precipitation-driven flooding, say Yale researchers.

Modern meteorological data collection gives us an unprecedented view into the real-time growth, track, and death of tropical cyclones.

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Coriolis Effect [credit: keywordhungry.com]


There are numerous attempts to explain the Coriolis effect on the internet, with varying success in terms of how confused the reader may be afterwards. This report may or may not clear things up, but best expect the latter.

The earth’s rotation causes the Coriolis effect, which deflects massive air and water flows toward the right in the Northern Hemisphere and toward the left in the Southern Hemisphere.

This phenomenon greatly impacts global wind patterns and ocean currents, and is only significant for large-scale and long-duration geophysical phenomena such as hurricanes.

The magnitude of the Coriolis effect, relative to the magnitude of inertial forces, is expressed by the Rossby number. For over 100 years, scientists have believed that the higher this number, the less likely Coriolis effect influences oceanic or atmospheric events, says Phys.org.

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The Chill of Solar Minimum

Posted: September 28, 2018 by oldbrew in atmosphere, research, solar system dynamics, Temperature
Tags:

Credit: NOAA


Researchers have found that the last time the thermosphere was rated ‘hot’ was around 2003 (see chart below). Now with a deep solar minimum upon us, the obvious question is: what effect might this have on our planet as a whole?

Sept. 27, 2018: The sun is entering one of the deepest Solar Minima of the Space Age, says Dr. Tony Phillips at Space Weather.

Sunspots have been absent for most of 2018, and the sun’s ultraviolet output has sharply dropped. New research shows that Earth’s upper atmosphere is responding.

“We see a cooling trend,” says Martin Mlynczak of NASA’s Langley Research Center. “High above Earth’s surface, near the edge of space, our atmosphere is losing heat energy. If current trends continue, it could soon set a Space Age record for cold.”

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Saharan dust storm [image credit: BBC]


The researchers report that ‘Titan displays particularly energetic meteorology at equinox in equatorial regions’. Associated strong winds ‘are expected to occur in downbursts during rare equinoctial methane storms—consistent with the timing of the observed brightenings’. On Earth, auroral activity is strongest at the equinoxes, so solar wind strength could be a factor in both phenomena.

Data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has revealed what appear to be giant dust storms in equatorial regions of Saturn’s moon Titan, reports Phys.org.

The discovery, described in a paper published on Sept. 24 in Nature Geoscience, makes Titan the third Solar System body, in addition to Earth and Mars, where dust storms have been observed.

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Did the BBC just say in this report: ‘if the recent warming is unusual’? Whether tree ring analysis can improve predictions, as suggested, is an interesting question but open to debate.

The “longest, continuous tree ring-based diary” is being created by scientists at the University of Cambridge to help map climate change, reports BBC News.

The diary documents climatic conditions going back centuries, using trees from across the world.

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Artist’s impression of an exoplanetary system [credit: NASA]


…and don’t get the answers their models led them to expect. Could the close proximity to their star of most exoplanets so far observed be a factor?

Sun-like stars rotate up to two and a half times faster at the equator than at higher latitudes, a finding by researchers at NYU Abu Dhabi that challenges current science on how stars rotate, reports Phys.org.

Until now, little was known about the precise rotational patterns of Sun-like stars, only that the equator spins faster than at higher latitudes, similar to the Sun.

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Image credit: Spaceflight now


Light as a power source is only a theory so far, but could have interesting implications if it can be shown to work. Or it could go nowhere…

Spacecraft and satellites could in future be launched into space without the need for fuel, thanks to a revolutionary new theory, says EurekAlert.

Dr Mike McCulloch, from the University of Plymouth, first put forward the idea of quantised inertia (QI) – through which he believes light can be converted into thrust – in 2007.

He has now received $1.3million from the United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for a four-year study which aims to make the concept a reality.

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The research includes an animation which explains ‘how three ancient land masses collided to form the British Isles’.

Scientists have for centuries believed that England, Wales and Scotland were created by the merger of Avalonia and Laurentia more than 400 million years ago, says EurekAlert.

However, geologists based at the University of Plymouth now believe that a third land mass – Armorica – was also involved in the process.

The findings are published in Nature Communications and follow an extensive study of mineral properties at exposed rock features across Devon and Cornwall.

They reveal a clear boundary running across the two counties, with areas north of it sharing their geological roots with the rest of England and Wales but everything south being geologically linked to France and mainland Europe.

Among other things, scientists believe the research explains the abundance of tin and tungsten in the far South West of England – metals also found in Brittany and other areas of mainland Europe, but not so evident in the rest of the UK.

The research’s lead author, Lecturer in Igneous Petrology Dr Arjan Dijkstra, said: “This is a completely new way of thinking about how Britain was formed. It has always been presumed that the border of Avalonia and Armorica was beneath what would seem to be the natural boundary of the English Channel. But our findings suggest that although there is no physical line on the surface, there is a clear geological boundary which separates Cornwall and south Devon from the rest of the UK.”

Continued here.

NASA mission to Jupiter’s
trojan asteroids


Could evidence from a specific binary asteroid pair upset existing planetary theories? ‘The Jupiter trojans, commonly called Trojan asteroids or just Trojans, are a large group of asteroids that share the planet Jupiter’s orbit around the Sun.’ – Wikipedia. There are over a million of these, inhabiting two oval-shaped zones based around what are known as the Lagrangian points L4 and L5 of Jupiter’s orbit (see animation below).

Scientists at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) studied an unusual pair of asteroids and discovered that their existence points to an early planetary shake-up in our solar system.

These bodies, called Patroclus and Menoetius [see flyby 6 in the graphic], are targets of NASA’s upcoming Lucy mission to the Trojan asteroids. They are around 70 miles wide and orbit around each other as they collectively circle the Sun.

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A new tweak to tidal theory is proposed. The research team hopes that ‘understanding continental configurations and tidal strengths will impact the development of climate models’.

Daily tides are driven primarily by Earth’s rotation and the gravitational force of the moon on oceans, says Earth magazine.

However, in a new study in Geophysical Research Letters, researchers suggest that tidal magnitudes are also influenced, on longer timescales, by the size and shape of the ocean basins, and are therefore driven by plate tectonics.

Plate tectonics gives rise to the formation of supercontinents — massive aggregations of continental lithosphere — which form and break apart in cycles that last about 400 million to 500 million years. With the breakup of the last supercontinent, Pangea, about 180 million years ago, and the projected formation of a new supercontinent, known as Aurica, in about 200 million years, Earth is currently in the middle of a supercontinent cycle.

Because the size and shape of ocean basins impact ocean circulation and tides, researchers led by Mattias Green, a physical oceanographer at Bangor University in England, hypothesized that tides may be linked to the supercontinent cycle in a so-called supertidal cycle.

Current tides, particularly those in the North Atlantic, are very large, Green’s team noted because of tidal resonance, which occurs when ocean basins and continental shelves reinforce and amplify the natural oscillation of tides as they sweep back and forth across oceans. “So the tides are larger at present because the continents are configured the way they are.”

To model Earth’s future oceanic tides, the researchers used predictions of continental configurations for the next 250 million years, through when Aurica is predicted to form. Ocean basin size was the main factor considered in the modeling, but the team also accounted for the moon’s gravitational pull on the oceans, Earth’s axial tilt, and simplified ocean bathymetries for future plate tectonic reconstructions.

Simplification of these fine details does affect the team’s modeling, notes David Waltham, a mathematical geologist at the Royal Holloway University of London, who was not involved in the study. But the simplifications used likely do not change the overall results, he adds.

Green and his colleagues reported that global tides are likely to increase over the next 50 million years “due to an enhanced tide in the North Atlantic and Pacific at 25 million years, followed by a very large Pacific tide at 50 million years.”

Continued here.

Credit: wonderfulengineering.com


“No science should be locked behind paywalls!” says a preamble document. Exactly.

European Commission special envoy Robert-Jan Smits has spearheaded a plan to make all scientific works free to read, the journal Nature reports.

Research funders from France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and eight other European nations have unveiled a radical open-access initiative that could change the face of science publishing in two years — and which has instantly provoked protest from publishers.

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Interesting. Another article reporting the solar gamma ray ‘mystery’ can be found here.
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Research paper (pdf): Evidence for a New Component of High-Energy Solar Gamma-Ray Production

The Next Grand Minimum

Devdiscourse News Desk 29 Aug 2018, 01:18 PM

New research by US scientists has detected that the Sun is emitting a higher than expected amount of high-energy light consisting of gamma rays. But the most unusual thing is that the rays with the highest energy appear when the star is at its least active point, according to the study, which is published in the journal Physical Review Letters.

The work is the first investigation that has examined gamma rays over most of the solar cycle, a period of about 11 years during which the activity of the star increases and decreases.

The group of scientists, led by astrophysicist Tim Linden, analyzed data that NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray space telescope collected between August 2008 and November 2017. The observations included a period of low solar activity in 2008 and 2009, a period of greatest activity in 2013 and a reduction in activity…

View original post 347 more words

Volcanic eruption


‘The 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora was one of the most powerful in recorded history, with a Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) of 7’, says Wikipedia.

The unusually cold year of 1816 has been linked to one of the most powerful volcanic eruptions in recorded history, and now we may know how, says New Atlas.

A new paper explains how electrified ash from the eruption could have “short-circuited” the Earth’s ionosphere and triggered the “Year Without A Summer.”

The year 1816 was a weird one, climatically speaking. Months that would normally be warm and pleasant were cold, rainy and overcast, leading to crop shortages across much of the Northern Hemisphere.

A new paper out of Imperial College London explains how electrified ash from the eruption could have “short-circuited” the Earth’s ionosphere and triggered the “Year Without A Summer.”

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Volcanic eruption


Interesting results from this research into where and how volcanoes might fit into the oceans/climate picture.

Volcanic eruptions are among the most important natural causes of climate change, playing a leading role over the past millennium, says Phys.org.

Injections of sulfate aerosols into the lower stratosphere reduce the incoming solar radiation, in turn cooling the surface.

As a natural external forcing to the Earth’s climate system, the impact of volcanic aerosols on the climate has been of great concern to the scientific society and the public.

In recent years, scientists have found that there is a relationship between volcanic eruptions and the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) based on reconstructions and model simulations, which is manifested in increased/decreased sea surface temperature (SST) gradient over the equatorial Pacific.

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The highly tilted orbit of Eris compared to the orbits of Ceres (light blue), Jupiter (maroon), Saturn (orange, Uranus (green), Neptune (blue), Pluto (olive, and MakeMake (red) [image credit: Fandom]


Could a ‘rogue’ star passing nearby have disturbed outer parts of the early solar system? Beyond Neptune things become somewhat different.

The outer reaches of our solar system harbor a number of mysterious features. Astrobites reports on whether a single stellar fly-by could help explain them all.

A star is born from the gravitational collapse of a cloud of gas and dust. Yet not all of the material ends up in the star, and instead forms a flat protoplanetary disk that surrounds the new star. Over time, the materials in this disk coalesce to form planets, moons, asteroids, and most other objects you might expect to find near a typical star.

Since protoplanetary disks are flat, the expectation is that all of the planets and objects orbiting a star that formed out of a protoplanetary disk should orbit on a single plane. So when we find stars with planets that orbit at multiple different inclinations, this raises questions.

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Many believe the forces of climate alarm got Professor Peter Ridd fired for saying what he thought about the recovery powers of the GBR.

NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW THAT

By Paul Homewood

A new study finds that coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef is nothing new.

From the Evening Express:

image

Large-scale coral bleaching has raised concern about the future of the ecosystems and the impact their loss could have on biodiversity.

Dr Sebastian Hennige, researcher

The teams found the frequency of bleaching has increased since the 1800s and, despite corals’ ability to recover, there are fears they could now be approaching a “critical threshold”.

Dr Nick Kamenos from Glasgow’s School of Geographical and Earth Sciences said: “It’s clear in the core data we examined that bleaching has been occurring on the Great Barrier Reef for at least 400 years, but the frequency of bleaching events has increased markedly since the early 1800s and those events have affected 10% more corals since the late 1700s.

“We can see that corals have been able to acclimate and recover from past…

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Antarctica


Researchers describe this as ‘a major challenge to our current understanding’. The global carbon cycle model may have to be revisited.

More than 100 oceanic floats are now diving and drifting in the Southern Ocean around Antarctica during the peak of winter, reports Phys.org.

These instruments are gathering data from a place and season that remains very poorly studied, despite its important role in regulating the global climate.

A new study from the University of Washington, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, Princeton University and several other oceanographic institutions uses data gathered by the floating drones over past winters to learn how much carbon dioxide is transferred by the surrounding seas.

Results show that in winter the open water nearest the sea ice surrounding Antarctica releases significantly more carbon dioxide than previously believed.

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