Archive for the ‘solar system dynamics’ Category

Jupiter [image credit: NASA]

Even less feasible than permanently changing Earth’s climate with tiny amounts of trace gases, but theorists have ideas to test.
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We have exactly one world, in all the Universe, that we know for a fact to be hospitable to life: ours, says Science Alert.

So when we’re looking for habitable planets in other planetary systems, beyond our own corner of the galaxy, we often use Earth as the perfect template.

But a new study has revealed Earth isn’t as habitable as it could be. In fact, it could be even more livable, if Jupiter’s orbit shifted slightly.


As Nasa is reported as suggesting that ‘stronger winds in El Niño years can slow down the planet’s spin’, can we – on the basis of no research at all – nominate La Niña as a suspect here? Just trying to be helpful, as MSN claims: Experts confused after earth spins faster.
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Analysis: Reflecting a recent trend, 29 June was the shortest day on our planet since the 1960s. What’s going on? – wonders The Guardian.
. . .
If time feels tighter than ever of late, blame it on the revolution. On 29 June this year, Earth racked up an unusual record: its shortest day since the 1960s, when scientists began measuring the planet’s rotation with high-precision atomic clocks.

Broadly speaking, Earth completes one full turn on its axis every 24 hours. That single spin marks out a day and drives the cycle of sunrise and sunset that has shaped patterns of life for billions of years.

But the curtains fell early on 29 June, with midnight arriving 1.59 milliseconds sooner than expected.



The Financial Post of July 09, 2022, reported that Canada will release a sanctioned, overhauled gas turbine to Germany, for use in Russia’s Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline, hopefully preventing a further collapse of Germany’s economy, says Friends of Science. Critics denounced the move as conflicting with Canada’s “Stand with Ukraine” policy. According to Canada’s international trade website: “Germany, with the largest economy in the EU and the fourth largest in the world … Germany is Canada’s largest export market in the EU…with two-way merchandise trade totaling $25.8 billion in 2021.”

Germany is heavily reliant on natural gas from Russia. DW reported on July 11, 2022, that Germany was preparing for possible total Russian gas cut-off which would mean economic collapse and social strife due to rationing of low gas reserves and a cold winter ahead.

EChemi reported in April 2022, Germany chemical giant BASF warned that it may have to shut down production: “there is no substitute for natural gas as a raw material or energy source (in Germany), and a shortage of natural gas will result in it not having enough energy for chemical production and lack of key raw materials for manufacturing products.” Many BASF products are familiar and important to the daily life of millions of people worldwide. About 39,000 people work at BASF’s Ludwigschafen chemical processing complex in Germany.

EU energy geopolitics expert Samuel Furfari explains in his July 12, 2022, Atlantico article, “Towards a gas cut: the moment of truth on our dependence on hydrocarbons has come,” oil and gas provide the ‘horse-power’ to make large scale food production possible, but they are also the source of fertilizer. Skyrocketing fertilizer costs and blocked wheat exports from Ukraine will create food shortages and famine.


The Bastille Day Event

Posted: July 14, 2022 by oldbrew in atmosphere, Solar physics, solar system dynamics

Some interesting solar physics here.

July 14, 2022: When a solar storm is so strong that the Voyager spacecraft feel it at the edge of the solar system, you know it must be special. Twenty-two years ago today, July 14, 2000, the lonely travelers were on the verge of escaping space weather altogether when giant sunspot AR9077 exploded. The flare was so intense, it sent shockwaves to the very edge of the solar system.

SOHO images of the Bastille Day solar flare (left) and CME (right). The onset of snow in the images is a result of energetic protons hitting the spacecraft

Earth was on the doorstep of the blast, dubbed The “Bastille Day Event” because it coincided with the national day of France. Subatomic particles, especially protons, arrived in a ferocious wave, peppering satellites and penetrating deep into Earth’s atmosphere. Sensors on Earth’s surface registered a rare GLE–a “ground-level event.”

“People flying in commercial…

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Once again it’s my pleasure to publish a new paper by Ned Nikolov and Karl Zeller at the Talkshop. In this study, we see the presentation of a climate conundrum, and recent surface solar radiation data which helps shed new light on the questions surrounding the ongoing adjustment of global temperature datasets. This new study applies theory developed in Ned and Karl’s previous paper to enable quantification of the global temperature drop during the “1970s ice-age scare”. This won’t be the last word on the topic, but it offers a solid grounding for further research.

A PDF version of this article can be downloaded here.

Implications of a New Gridded Dataset of Surface Solar Radiation
for the Evolution of Earth’s Global Surface Temperature Since 1960

Ned Nikolov, Ph.D. and Karl Zeller, Ph.D.
July, 2022


A new data set of measured Surface Solar Radiation (SSR) covering six continents (Yuan et al. 2021) reveals that the Earth surface received annually 6.6 W m-2 less shortwave energy in 2019 than it did in the early 1960s, and that the average solar flux incident on land decreased by 8.2 W m-2 between 1962 and 1985. Since the Sun is the primary source of energy to the climate system, this pattern of SSR change over the past 60 years (oftentimes referred to as global dimming) suggests that the early 1960s were much warmer than the present. However, all modern records of global surface air temperature show a net warming of about 1.0 K between 1962 and 2019. We investigate this conundrum with the help of an independently derived model (previously verified against CERES observations) that accurately converts observed SSR anomalies into changes of global surface temperature. Results from the SSR-based temperature reconstruction are compared to observed global surface temperatures provided by UAH 6.0 and HadCRUT5 datasets. We find that the SSR-based global temperature estimates match quite well the UAH satellite record from 1982 to the present in terms of overall trend and interannual variability suggesting that the observed warming of the past 40 years was the result of a decreased cloud albedo and an increased SSR rather than rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations. The HadCRUT5 record also shows a satisfactory agreement with the SSR-based temperatures over the same time period. However, between 1962 and 1983, the SSR-based temperature reconstruction depicts a steep global cooling reaching a rate of -1.3 K/decade during the 1970s. This is drastically different from the mild warming claimed by HadCRUT5 over this time period. The cooling episode indicated by the SSR data is corroborated by more than 115 magazine and newspaper articles published throughout the 1970s as well as a classified CIA Report from 1974 all quoting eminent climatologists of the day, who warned the public that the observed worldwide drop of temperatures threatened the global food supply and economic security. Based on this, we conclude that researchers in charge of the HadCRUT dataset have likely removed the 1962 – 1983 cooling episode from the records before the publication of HadCRUT1 in 1994 in an effort to hide evidence contradicting the UN Resolution 43/53 from 1988, which proclaimed a global warming caused by greenhouse gases as a major societal concern, and urged Governments to treat it as a priority issue in climate research and environmental protection initiatives.

  1. Introduction

It is a matter of conventional wisdom now that the Earth was significantly cooler during 1960s compared to the 21st Century. Similarly, no one disputes that the planet’s surface temperature was 1.2oC lower in the beginning of the 20th Century compared to the present. This paradigm of climate change is based on surface temperature records maintained by several research teams that show remarkable consistency with one another. Figure 1 portrays global temperature anomalies based on 6 datasets supposedly constructed using different approaches summarized by Morice et al. (2021). All global records depict a nearly continuous warming since 1920 with a brief pause of the temperature rise between 1940 and 1980. No record shows a drop of global temperature between 1960 and 1980, which is at odds with a well-documented, decade-long discussion in the media about an ongoing rapid cooling during the 1970s currently known as the “1970s ice-age scare”.

Figure 1. Global surface temperature anomaly from 1850 to 2021 according to 6 official data sets. Note the remarkable consistency among various time series (borrowed from Fig. 8 of Morice et al. 2021).


Ned Nikolov sends exciting news. He’s been invited to co-edit a special issue of ‘Climate’ jounal, carried by high impact factor open access publisher MDPI; the world’s largest and fastest growing open access publisher. He has now issued the call for papers.

A special issue of Climate (ISSN 2225-1154): “Natural Drivers of Climate Change: New Frontiers”
This special issue belongs to the section “Climate and Environment“.
Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 January 2023 |

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We would like to welcome contributions for a Special Issue in the MDPI journal Climate focused on natural drivers of the Earth’s climate. Results from Atmosphere/Ocean General Circulation Models (AOGCMs) highlight the critical role of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions in determining the course of future climatic change. These models, rooted in theory, do not successfully simulate natural phenomena such as ENSO, PDO and AMO. However, recent published research suggests that the natural forcing of climate may have been underestimated and that the lack of proper representation of such forcing in models may be highly consequential for climate projections. For example, studies have shown that cloud albedo has decreased over the past 40 years, and the resulting increase of surface solar radiation is a significant contributor to the observed warming (Herman et al. 2013Hofer et al. 2017Pfeifroth et al. 2018Pokrovsky 2019Delgado-Bonal et al. 2020Dübal & Vahrenholt 2021). At the same time, the inability of AOGCMs to predict changes in cloud albedo has been recognized as a leading source of uncertainty in climate projections (Williams et al. 2020Ceppi & Nowack 2021).


Beware ‘unusual frequencies (harmonics)’.

June 13, 2022: Researchers have mapped the best and worst places to be in the USA during a severe geomagnetic storm. For residents of some big cities, the news is not good.

“Resistive structures in the crust and mantle of the Earth make cities along the east coast of the USA especially vulnerable to geomagnetic storms,” says Jeffrey Love of the US Geological Survey (USGS), who led the study. “The hazards are greatest for power systems serving Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, DC, – a megalopolis of over 50 million people.”

Above: If you live near an orange dot you might be in trouble. Peak geoelectric field amplitudes during the March 13, 1989, geomagnetic storm, from Love et al (2022).

These conclusions are based on a new study of the biggest geomagnetic storm of the Space Age–the Great Québec Blackout. On March 13, 1989, two major CMEs hammered…

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A reconstruction of the Anglian ice sheet in Precambrian North London (credit: BBC / The Natural History Museum, London)

They claim this solves the so-called 100,000 year problem described by Wikipedia:
‘The 100,000-year-problem refers to the lack of an obvious explanation for the periodicity of ice ages at roughly 100,000 years for the past million years, but not before, when the dominant periodicity corresponded to 41,000 years. The unexplained transition between the two periodicity regimes is known as the Mid-Pleistocene Transition, dated to some 800,000 years ago.’ [41,000 years being the approximate obliquity cycle period]

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In a new study published today in the journal Science, the team from Cardiff University has been able to pinpoint exactly how the tilting and wobbling of the Earth as it orbits around the Sun has influenced the melting of ice sheets in the Northern Hemisphere over the past 2 million years or so.

Scientists have long been aware that the waxing and waning of massive Northern Hemisphere ice sheets results from changes in the geometry of Earth’s orbit around the Sun, says

There are two aspects of the Earth’s geometry that can influence the melting of ice sheets: obliquity and precession.


Sunspots [image credit: NASA]

The Sun may still have a surprise or two for solar cycle 25 theorists, but what we hear is: “I believe this will likely be the best forecast to come out of one of the NOAA/NASA Cycle prediction panels.” The article below doesn’t include the question mark in its headline.
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The Sun is waking up, says Sky and Telescope.

In recent weeks, NASA has announced X-class solar flares, observers have seen large sunspot groups with the unaided eye, and online services have issued multiple aurora alerts even for mid-latitudes.

After years of quiescence — the Sun was more often spotless than not in 2018, 2019, and 2020 — the change of pace is exciting solar observers.


I’m delighted Ned Nikolov and Karl Zeller have chosen the Talkshop as the venue for the publication of this new open peer review paper on climate sensitivity. Scientific advance at the cutting edge has always been the most important aim of this blog, and I think this paper truly is an advance in our understanding of the climate system and the factors which support and modulate surface temperature on Earth and other rocky planets. 

The paper is mathematically rigorous, but is also accessible to everyone, thanks to Ned and Karl’s exemplary effort to fully explain their concepts and definitions in terms which can be understood by any interested reader who has some familiarity with the climate debate. Building on the bedrock of their 2014 and 2017 papers, this new work extends the applicability and validates the postulates of those previous papers by examining the causes of variability in planetary surface temperature and incorporating the previous findings in quantifying and deriving equations to model them. They find that Earth is sensitive to changes in cloud cover, which affects the amount of solar shortwave radiation reaching the surface, but not very sensitive to changes in Total Solar Irradiance arriving at the top of the atmosphere. They also find that the sensitivity to changes in CO2 levels has been heavily overestimated by current climate models. They show that a doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentration from 280 ppm to 560 ppm will cause an undetectable global warming of 0.004K.

A PDF of the paper can be downloaded here:  ECS_Universal_Equations.


Exact Formulas for Estimating the Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity of Rocky Planets & Moons to Total Solar Irradiance, Absorbed Shortwave Radiation, Planetary Albedo and Surface Atmospheric Pressure.
Ned Nikolov, Ph.D. and Karl Zeller, Ph.D.
April, 2022

1. Introduction

The term “Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity” (ECS) has become a synonym for the steady-state response of global surface temperature to a modeled long-wave radiative forcing caused by a doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentration with respect to an assumed pre-industrial level of 280 ppm. According to climate models based on the Greenhouse theory, an increase of atmospheric CO2 from 280 ppm to 560 ppm would produce a net radiative forcing (i.e. an atmospheric radiant-heat trapping) of 3.74 W m-2 (Gregory et al. 2004) resulting in a global surface warming between 2.5 K and 4.0 K with a central estimate of 3.0 K according to IPCC AR6 (see p. 11 in Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis. Summary for Policymakers). This implies an average unit ECS of 3.0/3.74 = 0.8 K / (W m-2) with a range of 0.67 ≤ ECS ≤ 1.07 K / (W m-2). Contemporary climate science and IPCC Assessment Reports do not discuss global temperature sensitivities to changes in cloud albedo, absorbed solar radiation or total surface atmospheric pressure. Consequently, no equations have been derived/proposed thus far to calculate these sensitivities. The reason for such an omission is the implicit assumption made by IPCC based on the 19th-Century Greenhouse theory (Arrhenius 1896) that the observed warming during most of the 20th Century and especially over the past 40 years was chiefly caused by an increase of industrial CO2 emissions, which are believed to trap outgoing long-wave radiation in the Earth’s troposphere and reduce the rate of surface infrared cooling to Space.

However, a plethora of studies published during the past 15 years have shown through both satellite and surface observations that the absorption of solar radiation by the Earth-atmosphere system has increased significantly since 1982 due to a decreased cloud cover/albedo, a phenomenon often referred to as “global brightening” (e.g. Goode & Pallé 2007; Wild 2009; Herman et al. 2013; Stanhill et al. 2014; Hofer et al. 2017; Pfeifroth et al. 2018; Pokrovsky 2019;  Delgado-Bonal et al. 2020; Dübal & Vahrenholt 2021;  Yuan et al. 2021). This implies a global warming driven by a rising surface solar radiation rather than CO2.


Trend or blip? The former looks more likely at the moment, but the sun can cause surprises.

April 5, 2022: New sunspot counts from NOAA confirm that Solar Cycle 25 is racing ahead of the official forecast–and the gap is growing:

See the complete labeled plot or play with an interactive version from NOAA

Sunspot counts have now exceeded predictions for 18 straight months. The monthly value at the end of March was more than twice the forecast, and the highest in nearly 7 years.

The “official forecast” comes from the Solar Cycle Prediction Panel, a group of scientists representing NOAA, NASA and International Space Environmental Services (ISES). The Panel predicted that Solar Cycle 25 would peak in July 2025 as a relatively weak cycle, similar in magnitude to its predecessor Solar Cycle 24. Instead, Solar Cycle 25 is shaping up to be stronger.

In March 2022, the sun produced 146 solar flares, including one X-flare and 13 M-flares. Auroras were sighted as far south…

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Something similar was also detected on Mars a few years ago. One researcher commented: “The sudden intensification of a ring current causes the main phase of a magnetic storm.” Coronal mass ejections from the sun were identified as a cause.
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An international team of scientists has proved that Mercury, our solar system’s smallest planet, has geomagnetic storms similar to those on Earth, says Science Daily.

Their finding, a first, answers the question of whether other planets, including those outside our solar system, can have geomagnetic storms regardless of the size of their magnetosphere or whether they have an Earth-like ionosphere.

The research by scientists in the United States, Canada and China includes work by Hui Zhang, a space physics professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute.

Their finding, a first, answers the question of whether other planets, including those outside our solar system, can have geomagnetic storms regardless of the size of their magnetosphere or whether they have an Earth-like ionosphere.


Solar cycle 25 is about to reach the interesting stage, when we find out what it’s really made of.

March 23, 2022: Solar Cycle 25 is intensifying–and Earth’s upper atmosphere is responding.

“The Thermosphere Climate Index (TCI) is going up rapidly right now,” reports Linda Hunt of Science Systems and Applications, Inc. “It has nearly tripled in the past year.”

TCI is a number published daily by NASA, which tells us how hot Earth’s upper atmosphere is. The thermosphere, the very highest layer of gas, literally touches space and is a sort of “first responder” to solar activity. Hunt created this plot showing how TCI has unfolded during the last 7 solar cycles.  Solar Cycle 25 (shown in blue) is just getting started:

“So far Solar Cycle 25 is well ahead of the pace of Solar Cycle 24,” notes Hunt. If this trend continues, the thermosphere could soon hit a 20-year high in temperature.

Before we go any farther, a word of caution: This does not mean Earth is…

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The Mystery of Orange Auroras

Posted: March 5, 2022 by oldbrew in atmosphere, solar system dynamics

Why now, we may ask. Either we didn’t notice them before or they weren’t there.

March 4, 2022: A recent display of auroras over Canada has experts scratching their heads. The mystery? They were orange. Pilot Matt Melnyk was flying 36,000 feet over Canada on Feb. 23rd when he saw the strangely-colored lights from the cockpit window:

“I have been chasing and photographing auroras for more than 13 years (often from airplanes) and this is the first time I have ever seen orange,” says Melnyk.

What’s so strange about orange? Joe Minow of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center explains: “Theoretically, nitrogen and oxygen (N2, N2+, and O2+) can produce emissions at orange wavelengths, but these are typically weak compared to stronger emissions from the same molecules at the red end of the spectrum. It is hard to understand how orange could dominate in an auroral display.”

Even so, Melnyk says “these appeared to be real auroras.” The orange fringe danced in sync with regular red…

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The Termination Event has Arrived

Posted: February 26, 2022 by oldbrew in Cycles, Solar physics, solar system dynamics

According to a new theory of solar cycles, that is.

Feb. 25, 2022: Something big just happened on the sun. Solar physicists Scott McIntosh (NCAR) and Bob Leamon (U. Maryland-Baltimore) call it “The Termination Event.”

“Old Solar Cycle 24 has finally died–it was terminated!” says McIntosh. “Now the new solar cycle, Solar Cycle 25, can really take off.”

The “Termination Event” is a new idea in solar physics, outlined by McIntosh and Leamon in a December 2020 paper in the journal Solar Physics. Not everyone accepts it–yet. If Solar Cycle 25 unfolds as McIntosh and Leamon predict, the Termination Event will have to be taken seriously.

Above: Predictions for Solar Cycle 25. Green would be average. Blue is the “official” prediction of a weak cycle. Red is a 2020 prediction based on the Termination Event.

The basic idea is this: Solar Cycle 25 (SC25) started in Dec. 2019. However, old Solar Cycle 24 (SC24) refused to go away. It…

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The Starlink Incident

Posted: February 10, 2022 by oldbrew in Geomagnetism, satellites, solar system dynamics

Looks like the risks were seriously underestimated if this was only a minor geomagnetic storm.

Feb. 9, 2022: As many as 40 Starlink satellites are currently falling out of the sky–the surprising result of a minor geomagnetic storm. SpaceX made the announcement yesterday:

“On Thursday, Feb. 3rd at 1:13 p.m. EST, Falcon 9 launched 49 Starlink satellites to low Earth orbit from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. … Unfortunately, the satellites deployed on Thursday were significantly impacted by a geomagnetic storm on Friday, [Feb. 4th].”

Two days before launch a CME hit Earth’s magnetic field. It was not a major space weather event. In fact, the weak impact did not at first spark any remarkable geomagnetic activity. However, as Earth passed through the CME’s wake, some sputtering G1-class geomagnetic storms developed. It was one of these minor storms that caught the Starlink satellites on Feb. 4th.

Geomagnetic storms heat Earth’s upper atmosphere. Diaphanous tendrils of warming air literally reached up…

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Credit: NASA

Compensating for the lost time may prove challenging for scientists, says Astronomy magazine. Turning the internet clock back one second implies a repeat of a computer-generated timestamp for example, which might confuse some vital systems not designed to handle that.
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Ever feel like there’s just not enough time in the day? Turns out, you might be onto something.

Earth is rotating faster than it has in the last half-century, resulting in our days being ever-so-slightly shorter than we’re used to.



Plate tectonics has always been good for a science controversy or two. This one throws some solar-planetary spice into the mix, putting a focus on the Earth-Moon barycentre.
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A study led by geophysicist Anne M. Hofmeister in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis proposes that imbalanced forces and torques in the Earth-moon-sun system drive circulation of the whole mantle, says

The new analysis provides an alternative to the hypothesis that the movement of tectonic plates is related to convection currents in the Earth’s mantle.

Convection involves buoyant rise of heated fluids, which Hofmeister and her colleagues argue does not apply to solid rocks.

They argue that force, not heat, moves large objects.


Jupiter’s cloud bands [image credit: NASA]

Scientist Rhodes Fairbridge noted in an essay that D.G. King-Hele had in the 1960s pointed out a pattern of solar-planetary significance:
‘King-Hele was able to identify a cyclical process referring to the return alignments of Jupiter, the center of the Sun, and the center of gravity of the Solar System (the barycenter).’

Although some of King-Hele’s conclusions may have been based on no longer used ephemeris data, the basic pattern is still there for us to see today.

The Solar Simulator shows that the Jupiter-Sun line passes through the solar system barycentre exactly 19 times every ~179 years, equivalent to 9 Jupiter-Saturn synodic periods of 19.865~ years each (aka the Jose cycle).


Solar Cycle 25 Update

Posted: January 12, 2022 by oldbrew in Cycles, data, solar system dynamics
Tags: ,

It’s still early in the cycle so let’s see what the next 1-2 years bring.

Jan. 10, 2022: Solar Cycle 25 is heating up. New sunspot counts from NOAA confirm that the young solar cycle is outrunning the official forecast. You are here:

Actual sunspot counts have now exceeded predictions for 15 straight months. The monthly value at the end of December 2021 was more than twice the forecast, and the highest in more than 5 years.

The “official forecast” comes from the Solar Cycle Prediction Panel representing NOAA, NASA and International Space Environmental Services (ISES). Using a variety of leading indicators, the Panel predicted that Solar Cycle 25 would peak in July 2025 as a relatively weak cycle, similar in magnitude to its predecessor Solar Cycle 24. Instead, Solar Cycle 25 is shaping up to be stronger.

Sky watchers have already noticed the change. “We are definitely seeing the effects on the ground in the Arctic!” reports Chad Blakley of the Swedish tour guide…

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