Posts Tagged ‘baffled scientists’

Antarctic sea ice [image credit: BBC]


Warming, but not global – is the polar see-saw hypothesis in play here? In any case, it seems climate models are falling short again.
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Sea ice in the Southern Ocean defies predictions.

Observations show that ice extent in the Antarctic has been growing slightly, reports The Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF).

Paul Holland, a climate modeler with the British Antarctic Survey, has spent the last ten years studying Antarctica’s sea ice and the Southern Ocean.

Lately, he has been scrutinizing the seasons of Antarctica and how fast the ice comes and goes.

Holland thinks these seasons may be a key to a conundrum: If Earth’s temperatures are getting warmer and sea ice in the Arctic has been shrinking fast, why then is sea ice in the Antarctic slowly increasing?

Opposite poles

Sea ice is simply frozen seawater. Although found only in the Arctic and the Antarctic, it influences Earth’s climate in big ways. Its bright surface reflects sunlight back into space. Icy areas absorb less solar energy and remain relatively cool.

When temperatures warm over time and more sea ice melts, fewer bright surfaces reflect sunlight back into space. The ice and exposed seawater absorb more solar energy and this causes more melting and more warming.

Scientists have been watching this feedback loop of warming and melting in the Arctic. To them, Arctic sea ice is a reliable indicator of a changing global climate. They pay the most attention in September when Arctic sea ice shrinks to its smallest extent each year. Measured by satellites since 1979, this minimum extent has been decreasing by as much as 13.7 percent per decade.

Antarctic sea ice, on the other hand, has not been considered a climate change indicator. Whereas Arctic sea ice mostly sits in the middle of land-locked ocean—which is more sensitive to sunlight and warming air—Antarctic sea ice surrounds land and is constantly exposed to high winds and waves.

According to climate models, rising global temperatures should cause sea ice in both regions to shrink. But observations show that ice extent in the Arctic has shrunk faster than models predicted, and in the Antarctic it has been growing slightly.

Researchers are looking much closer at Antarctica, saying, “Wait, what is going on down there?” Holland is one of those intrigued.

“The Antarctic case is as interesting as the Arctic case,” Holland said. “You can’t understand one without understanding the other.”

Minding the models

To Holland, the discrepancy calls parts of the climate models into question.

Continued here.

NASA pdf: https://cdn.earthdata.nasa.gov/conduit/upload/756/NASA_SOP_2014_unexpected_ice.pdf

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The NLCs are playing a game of hide-and-seek this season, bemusing regular observers.

Spaceweather.com

Jan. 8, 2021:

They’re back. Noctilucent clouds (NLCs), recently missing, are once again circling the South Pole. And, in an unexpected twist, they’ve just appeared over Argentina as well.

“This is a very rare event,” reports Gerd Baumgarten of Germany’s Leibniz-Institute of Atmospheric Physics, whose automated cameras caught the meteoritic clouds rippling over Rio Grande, Argentina (53.8S) on Jan. 3rd:

A second camera recorded the clouds at even higher latitude: Rio Gallegos (51.6S). At this time of year, noctilucent clouds are supposed to be confined to the Antarctic–not Argentina. In the whole history of atmospheric research, NLCs have been sighted at mid-southern latitudes only a handful of times.

“Personally, I am thrilled to see NLCs in Argentina, as I had not expected them to occur so far north,” says Natalie Kaifler of the German Aerospace Center (DLR), who operates a lidar (laser radar) alongside one of Baumgarten’s…

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Credit: earth.com


Greetings Earthlings, or should we say ‘habitable-zone-dwelling asteroid dodgers’? We even have the right amount of atmosphere — not too little (like Mars) or too much (like Venus), and the essential oxygen.
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Pure chance is the reason that Planet Earth has stayed habitable for billions of years.

A new study has found that it’s nothing more than good luck that has kept our world full of life, reports I-news.

Scientists at the University of Southampton have carried out a mass simulation of climate evolution of 100,000 randomly generated planets.

Each planet was simulated 100 times with random climate-altering events occurring each time in order to see if habitable life could be sustained for three billion years like on Earth.

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Is it a coincidence that we’re just past the end of the lowest sunspot cycle for over a century?

Spaceweather.com

Dec. 28, 2020: Something strange is happening 50 miles above Antarctica. Or rather, not happening. Noctilucent clouds (NLCs), which normally blanket the frozen continent in December, are almost completely missing. These images from NASA’s AIM spacecraft compare Christmas Eve 2019 with Christmas Eve 2020:

“The comparison really is astounding,” says Cora Randall of the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. “Noctilucent cloud frequencies are close to zero this year.”

NLCs are Earth’s highest clouds. They form when summertime wisps of water vapor rise up from the poles to the edge of space. Water crystallizing around specks of meteor dust 83 km (~50 miles) above Earth’s surface creates beautiful electric-blue structures, typically visible from November to February in the south, and May to August in the north.

A crucial point: Noctilucent clouds form during summer. And that’s the problem. Although summer officially started in Antarctica one week…

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Quote: ‘STEVE is a recently identified atmospheric phenomenon caused by supersonic plasma jets flowing at altitudes >100 km.’ Scientists continue to wrestle with its electromagnetic mysteries.

Spaceweather.com

Nov. 22, 2020: Just when you thought STEVE couldn’t get any weirder. A new paper published in the journal AGU Advances reveals that the luminous purple ribbon we call “STEVE” is often accompanied by green cannonballs of light that streak through the atmosphere at 1000 mph.

“Citizen scientists have been photographing these green streaks for years,” says Joshua Semeter of Boston University, lead author of the study. “Now we’re beginning to understand what they are.”

STEVE is a recent discovery. It looks like an aurora, but it is not. The purple glow is caused by hot (3000 °C) rivers of gas flowing through Earth’s magnetosphere faster than 13,000 mph. This distinguishes it from auroras, which are ignited by energetic particles raining down from space. Canadian aurora watchers first called attention to the phenomenon about 10 years ago, whimsically naming it STEVE; researchers have been studying it ever since.

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Image credit: Elfiehall @ Wikipedia


More unexplained goings-on as the solar wind’s charged particles reach Earth’s ionosphere. For the latest photos showing bright green light, see the source article here.
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The purple-and-green, atmospheric light show nicknamed STEVE just got even stranger, says Science News.

STEVE, short for Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement, is a sky glow that appears south of the northern lights (SN: 3/15/18).

STEVE’s main feature is a mauve band of light formed by a stream of plasma flowing westward through the atmosphere — a different phenomenon from the one that gives rise to auroras (SN: 4/30/19).

But STEVE’s purple arc is often accompanied by a “picket fence” of vertical green stripes.

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Credit: BBC


What weird weather puzzle? Static high or low pressure systems (blocking patterns) are not that uncommon or unusual, but are likely to be pounced on by headline-seeking climate alarmists. And statistics for calendar months (‘wettest February’) are to some extent just arbitrary period selection. Better theories might be at least as useful as fancier computers.
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A top climate scientist has called for more investment in climate computing to explain the UK’s recent topsy turvy weather, reports BBC News.

Prof Tim Palmer from Oxford University said there were still too many unknowns in climate forecasting.

And in the month the SpaceX launch grabbed headlines, he said just one of the firm’s billions could transform climate modelling.

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Credit: Wikipedia


Time for another Tunguska meteor theory.
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When a meteor zooms toward Earth at 45,000 mph with the strength 10-15 megatons of TNT—185 times more energy than the Hiroshima atomic bomb—it could possibly take out the entire planet, says Syfy.

If something like that doesn’t scream total annihilation, it’s hard to say what does, except this time it just missed.

Scorched earth and flattened trees were all that was left of the mysterious object after it passed dangerously close to the Tunguska region of Siberia in 1908.

Theories have ranged from a black hole colliding with Earth to a clash of matter and antimatter to an alien spaceship crash-landing. An eyewitness even swore the sky was being ripped in two. But why no crater? No debris?

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Credit: NASA


This BBC link includes a video which shows the weakening of the magnetic field over the last 400 years (under ‘Magnetic flip’ sub-heading).
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In an area stretching from Africa to South America, Earth’s magnetic field is gradually weakening, says Phys.org.

This strange behaviour has geophysicists puzzled and is causing technical disturbances in satellites orbiting Earth.

Scientists are using data from ESA’s Swarm constellation to improve our understanding of this area known as the ‘South Atlantic Anomaly.’

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Wikipedia says:

Dansgaard–Oeschger events (often abbreviated D–O events) are rapid climate fluctuations that occurred 25 times during the last glacial period. Some scientists say that the events occur quasi-periodically with a recurrence time being a multiple of 1,470 years, but this is debated. —

The 25 occurrences of 1470 years are represented in this synodic chart posted in the comments of our 2018 blog post:
Possible origin of Dansgaard-Oeschger abrupt climate events.

Re. the ‘debate’, let’s take a line from this paper:
On the 1470-year pacing of Dansgaard-Oeschger warm events
Michael Schulz
First published: 01 May 2002
Citations: 99
‘a fundamental pacing period of ~1470 years seems to control the timing of the onset of the Dansgaard-Oeschger events.’

Another study: Timing of abrupt climate change: A precise clock
Stefan Rahmstorf
First published: 21 May 2003

An analysis of the GISP2 ice core record from Greenland reveals that abrupt climate events appear to be paced by a 1,470-year cycle with a period that is probably stable to within a few percent; with 95% confidence the period is maintained to better than 12% over at least 23 cycles. This highly precise clock points to an origin outside the Earth system; oscillatory modes within the Earth system can be expected to be far more irregular in period.

[bold added]

However, researchers often admit defeat when looking for a viable mechanism to explain its regularity, or just say there isn’t one to date.

Kepler’s trigon – the orientation of consecutive Jupiter-Saturn synodic periods, showing the repeating triangular shape (trigon).


Returning to the synodics chart, a relevant number doesn’t appear in it. The Jupiter-Saturn conjunction of 19.865~ years is an important period in the solar system, and it returns to almost the same position after every three occurrences, as Johannes Kepler noted with his ‘trigon’, centuries ago.

We can work out the rate of movement per conjunction in degrees:
360 – ((360 / S) * J-S) = 117.147 degrees
(360 / 117.147) * J-S = 61.046482y (‘JS-360’)
[Data: https://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/?planet_phys_par ]

Then, from the chart:
1470*25 / ‘JS-360’ = 602.00029
Check: (602*360) / 117.147 = 1849.983 (1850 J-S, see chart)
Since ‘JS-360’ is almost exactly a whole number (602), the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction should be in its original position at the end of the 25 D-O cycles.

Adding 602 to the orbits of each planet = multiples of 25:
223(N) + 602 = 825 (25*33) = 1850-1025(S-N)
[33 = 74-41]
1248(S) + 602 = 1850 (25*74)
3098(J) + 602 = 3700 (25*74*2)

Another way to get multiples of 25:
Add 2 to each orbit number (see chart), and subtract 2 from 602.

More on the 602 number:
602 = 14*43
14*61.046482y = 854.651y
43 J-S = 854.197y
These two results are only about half a year apart, and we find:
43*43 = 1849 J-S
Add 1 = 1850 J-S completing the 25 D-O cycle.

43*61.046482y = 2625 years (2624.9987)
1470:2625 = 14:25 ratio
1470*25 = 2625*14 (hence 602 of ‘JS-360’ = 14*43)

Obliquity note:
28 D-O = 41160 years, a fair match to the expected 41 kyr period.
One paper refers to a fit between D-O and obliquity.
Others support the notion of a link — possibly a topic for another post.
(28*25*1470 = 1,029,000 years)

Example of a 1470 year period from Arnholm’s solar simulator — click on image to enlarge:

Showing Neptune, Jupiter, Saturn and Earth.
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Another one — Jupiter, Neptune, Saturn

Mars from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope


Tales of the unexpected on Mars: ‘Day-night fluctuations and things that pulse in the dark’, and other mysteries. What’s unique to Mars?

New data gleaned from the magnetic sensor aboard NASA’s InSight spacecraft is offering an unprecedented close-up of magnetic fields on Mars, says Phys.org.

“One of the big unknowns from previous satellite missions was what the magnetization looked like over small areas,” said lead author Catherine Johnson, a professor at the University of British Columbia and senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute.

“By placing the first magnetic sensor at the surface, we have gained valuable new clues about the interior structure and upper atmosphere of Mars that will help us understand how it – and other planets like it – formed.”

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Here we learn that the solar wind ‘has a sort of internal heater’, which may be short on scientific explanation but sounds interesting as far as it goes.
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There’s a wind that emanates from the sun, and it blows not like a soft whistle but like a hurricane’s scream, says Phys.org.

Made of electrons, protons, and heavier ions, the solar wind courses through the solar system at roughly 1 million miles per hour, barreling over everything in its path.

Yet through the wind’s roar, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe can hear small chirps, squeaks, and rustles that hint at the origins of this mysterious and ever-present wind.

Now, the team at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, which designed, built, and manages the Parker Solar Probe for NASA, is getting their first chance to hear those sounds, too.

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A researcher said of one of the new finds: “It is hard to see how the planet got there!”
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Six ‘very hot’ rocky exoplanets orbiting stars in the local region of the Milky Way hold the key to understanding more about how the Earth was formed, astronomers claim.

Researchers from the Open University have been studying planets discovered by the European Space Observatory’s planet-hunting telescope in Chile.

They are orbiting stars between 160 and 440 light years from Earth and all have hot surfaces with temperatures of around 2,012F to 3,272F.

The new findings could shed light on the geology of Earth and other rocky planets in the Solar System including Mercury, Venus and Mars, researchers say.

Full Daily Mail report here.

Magnetic North on the move [credit: ESA]


Few will notice anything, but some airport runways will have to change their markings.

The team of researchers that maintain the World Magnetic Model (WMM) has updated it and released it a year ahead of schedule due to the speed with which the pole is moving, reports Phys.org.

The newly updated model shows the magnetic north pole moving away from Canada and toward Siberia.

The magnetic north pole is the point on the Earth that compasses designate as true north. It is the result of geological processes deep within the planet—molten iron flow creates a magnetic field with poles near the geographic North and South Poles.

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Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica


Is there an element of circular reasoning here? Carbon dioxide levels have historically followed temperature changes, bringing any supposed causation into question.

Upside-down “rivers” of warm ocean water may be one of the causes of Antarctica’s ice shelves breaking up, leading to a rise in sea levels.

But a new study suggests an increase in sea ice may lead to a much more devastating change in the Earth’s climate — another ice age, reports Fox News.

Using computer simulations, the research suggests that an increase in sea ice could significantly alter the circulation of the ocean, ultimately leading to a reverse greenhouse effect as carbon dioxide levels in the ocean increase and levels in the air decrease.

“One key question in the field is still what caused the Earth to periodically cycle in and out of ice ages,” University of Chicago professor and the study’s co-author, Malte Jansen, said in a statement. “We are pretty confident that the carbon balance between the atmosphere and ocean must have changed, but we don’t quite know how or why.”

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Venus


The article here notes that: ‘The atmosphere of Venus – which is mostly carbon dioxide – is extremely dense and hot; atmospheric pressure on Venus’ surface is some 90 times that of Earth.’ An extremely dense atmosphere with enormous atmospheric pressure is always going to be hot, regardless of its composition. Just a thought, but maybe it needs a lot of convection (wind) to offset the heat.

Why does Venus’ upper atmosphere circle the planet in just 4 Earth-days, while the planet itself takes 243 Earth-days to spin once?

Japan’s Akatsuki spacecraft probed the mysterious “super-rotation” of Venus’ clouds, reports EarthSky.org.

The spacecraft – aka the Venus Climate Orbiter – got off a rocky start but has been sending back useful data from Venus for several years now.

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Himalayan region


The report says: ‘Many scientists believe that ocean acidification from high carbon dioxide levels will reduce the calcium carbonate in algae, especially in the near future. The data, however, suggest the opposite occurred over the 15 million years before the current global warming spell.’ Evidence meets ‘greenhouse gas’ based climate theory, which struggles. Time for a re-think?

A key theory that attributes the climate evolution of the Earth to the breakdown of Himalayan rocks may not explain the cooling over the past 15 million years, according to a Rutgers-led study.

The study in the journal Nature Geoscience could shed more light on the causes of long-term climate change, says Phys.org.

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Image credit: NASA


But why so? ‘No theories so far’ seems to be the real meaning behind the quote ‘for reasons that are not yet fully understood’. One of the few clues is that such strikes tend to be over water, and mainly in specific areas e.g. the Mediterranean.

The lightning season in the Southeastern U.S. is almost finished for this year, but the peak season for the most powerful strokes of lightning won’t begin until November, according to a newly published global survey of these rare events.

A University of Washington study maps the location and timing of “superbolts”—bolts that release electrical energy of more than 1 million Joules, or a thousand times more energy than the average lightning bolt, in the very low frequency range in which lightning is most active, reports Phys.org.

Results show that superbolts tend to hit the Earth in a fundamentally different pattern from regular lightning, for reasons that are not yet fully understood.

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Antarctica


The lead oceanographer in this research says: “The deep oceans have been warming across much of the world for decades, so we were surprised to suddenly see this trend reversing and stabilizing in the Scotia Sea.”
Carbon dioxide up, warming down – surprising to some it seems.

The supply of dense Antarctic water from the bottom of the ocean to the Atlantic has declined in recent years, says Phys.org.

However, a new study explains for the first time how since 2014 this has stabilized and slightly recovered due to the variability in upstream dense waters, with implications for the global climate.

The study, led by British Antarctic Survey, is published this week in the journal Nature Climate Change.

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Jakobshavn glacier, West Greenland [image credit: Wikipedia]


Without jumping to hasty conclusions, this is an interesting development not predicted by the IPCC’s supposed experts. Natural ocean/climate oscillations are implicated. Against assumptions, rising carbon dioxide levels cannot explain these latest observations.

A new NASA study finds a major Greenland glacier that was one of the fastest shrinking ice and snow masses on Earth is growing again, reports The GWPF.

The scientists were so shocked to find the change, Khazendar said: “At first we didn’t believe it.

“We had pretty much assumed that Jakobshavn would just keep going on as it had over the last 20 years.”

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