Posts Tagged ‘solar’

Ionized gas inside the Sun moves toward the poles near the surface and toward the equator at the base of the convection zone (at a depth of 200,000 km/125,000 miles).
Credit: MPS (Z.-C. Liang)


The title of the study cited in this report gives us the clue: ‘Meridional flow in the Sun’s convection zone is a single cell in each hemisphere’. The full cycle takes about 22 years on average, with a magnetic reversal halfway through.
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The sun’s magnetic activity follows an 11-year cycle. Over the course of a solar cycle, the sun’s magnetic activity comes and goes, says Phys.org.

During solar maximum, large sunspots and active regions appear on the sun’s surface. Spectacular loops of hot plasma stretch throughout the sun’s atmosphere and eruptions of particles and radiation shoot into interplanetary space.

During solar minimum, the sun calms down considerably. A striking regularity appears in the so-called butterfly diagram, which describes the position of sunspots in a time-latitude plot.

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Sunspots [image credit: NASA]


The researchers’ sun clock looks like this.
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Extreme space weather events can significantly impact systems such as satellites, communications systems, power distribution and aviation, says a Warwick University press release.

They are driven by solar activity which is known to have an irregular but roughly 11 year cycle.

By devising a new, regular ‘sun clock’, researchers have found that the switch on and off of periods of high solar activity is quite sharp, and are able to determine the switch on/off times.

Their analysis shows that whilst extreme events can happen at any time, they are much less likely to occur in the quiet interval.

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During a total solar eclipse, the Sun’s corona and prominences are visible to the naked eye [image credit: Luc Viatour / https://Lucnix.be ]


There’s an interesting time-series animation of the solar corona here. Clear differences in the corona at solar minimum compared to maximum were observed by the globetrotting researchers.
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While the world has been dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, researchers at the University of Hawaiʻi Institute for Astronomy (IfA) have been hard at work studying the solar corona, the outermost atmosphere of the sun which expands into interplanetary space, reports Phys.org.

This stream of charged particles radiating from the surface of the sun is called the solar wind and expands to fill the entire solar system.

The properties of the solar corona are a consequence of the sun’s complex magnetic field, which is produced in the solar interior and extends outward.

A new study by IfA graduate student Benjamin Boe, published Wednesday, June 3rd in the Astrophysical Journal, used total solar eclipse observations to measure the shape of the coronal magnetic field with higher spatial resolution and over a larger area than ever before.

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Image credit: MIT


Who wants to buy a secondhand EV after reading this? Maybe sellers should have to get a test certificate stating how much life there is left in the battery.
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Modeling study shows battery reuse systems could be profitable for both electric vehicle companies and grid-scale solar operations. — Technology.org reporting.

As electric vehicles rapidly grow in popularity worldwide [Talkshop comment – do they?], there will soon be a wave of used batteries whose performance is no longer sufficient for vehicles that need reliable acceleration and range.

But a new study shows that these batteries could still have a useful and profitable second life as backup storage for grid-scale solar photovoltaic installations, where they could perform for more than a decade in this less demanding role.

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Borrowed from ratepayers, strictly speaking. But there seems to be something rotten here anyway. Are solar farms an ‘investment’ of public money? Even if they are, they have an unfortunate reputation for going bust in some cases.
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A major investigation has revealed how Thurrock Council got into more than £1billion in debt, borrowing the money from around 150 local authorities across the UK, reports The Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF).

But instead of funding council services, the council gambled at least £604million in solar farms located outside of the borough.

Among Thurrock’s rundown council estates and neglected public parks, typical of many towns after a decade of austerity, there is nothing to suggest that over the past three years the local council has borrowed and then invested hundreds of millions of pounds of other councils’ money.

Under the direction of a senior council officer Thurrock borrowed from about 150 local authorities across the UK with little public scrutiny. These loans were not for direct funding of council services, or investing in infrastructure – instead they financed solar farms more than a hundred miles away.

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Assessing integrated solar roofs for EVs

Posted: May 15, 2020 by oldbrew in innovation, Travel
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Lightyear One prototype


A novel range extender, or just another way to make costly EVs even more expensive? Insurance costs could be eye-watering too.

High-tech mobility innovator Lightyear and Royal DSM will jointly scale the commercialization of Lightyear’s unique solar-powered roof for the electric vehicle market, reports Green Car Congress.

With this solution, both companies aim to accelerate the global adoption of a broad range of Electric Vehicles (EVs).

Specifically, the partnership aims to integrate solar-powered roofs in a variety of electric vehicles, including cars, vans and buses, thus enabling users to charge their vehicle directly with clean energy.

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The Sun’s 11 year cycle is the most well known among many others we’ll cover in this series.

Now we’ve entered the minimum between solar cycles 24 and 25, this seems like a good moment to recap what we’ve discovered about the Sun and the planetary system that revolves around it here on the Talkshop during the last decade. The idea that the Sun’s activity cycles were somehow linked to the motion of the planets didn’t begin here of course. In fact, the idea goes all the way back to Rudolf Wolf, the Swiss astronomer who in the 1800s collated the old, and continued adding new sunspot observations. He was convinced that the orbit of Jupiter modulated sunspot numbers.

Wolf was an admirer of the work of Heinrich Schwabe, who was the first to discover an approximately decadal cyclic variation in sunspot numbers. Wolf refined and extended the observations and found that while some solar cycles were a little over ten years long, others were much closer to Jupiter’s orbital period of just under twelve years. The long term average was found to be around 11.1 years.

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Two Solar Cycles Active at Once

Posted: April 28, 2020 by oldbrew in Cycles, solar system dynamics
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Cycle 25 preparing to topple Cycle 24.

Spaceweather.com

April 27, 2020: Today, there are two sunspots in the sun’s southern hemisphere. Their magnetic polarity reveals something interesting: They come from different solar cycles. Take a look at this magnetic map of the sun’s surface (with sunspots inset) from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory:

latest_4096_HMIBC_labelled_crop

One sunspot (AR2760) belongs to old Solar Cycle 24, while the other (AR2761) belongs to new Solar Cycle 25. We know this because of Hale’s polarity law. AR2760 is +/- while AR2761 is -/+, reversed signs that mark them as belonging to different cycles.

This is actually normal. Solar cycles always overlap at their boundaries, sprinkling Solar Minimum with a mixture of old- and new-cycle sunspots. Sometimes, like today, they pop up simultaneously. We might see more such combinations in the months ahead as we slowly grind our way through one of the deepest Solar Minima in a century.

The simultaneous appearance of two solar…

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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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Image credit: MIT


At least they don’t need any help predicting hours of darkness.
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The output of solar energy systems is highly dependent on cloud cover, says Science Daily.

While weather forecasting can be used to predict the amount of sunlight reaching ground-based solar collectors, cloud cover is often characterized in simple terms, such as cloudy, partly cloudy or clear.

This does not provide accurate information for estimating the amount of sunlight available for solar power plants.

In this week’s Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy, from AIP Publishing, a new method is reported for estimating cloud optical properties using data from recently launched satellites.

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NASA claims humans now have 50 times more influence on temperatures than the Sun, according to this report. But they don’t link to any supporting evidence so we’re back to alarmist assertions and numbers pulled out of the sky, as usual.

NASA has shut down a spacecraft that measured the amount of solar energy entering Earth’s atmosphere for 17 years, more than three times the mission’s original design life, reports Spaceflight Now.

The Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment, or SORCE, mission ended Feb. 25 after the spacecraft labored through battery problems for years until NASA could launch a replacement.

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When we had ‘the pause’ it was claimed to be a temporary blip, despite lasting for well over a decade. An even longer period of non-warming would be needed to convince doubters aka IPCC-backed alarmists that their climate models don’t work, or at least nowhere near as well as they would like to think.
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We are moving into one of the biggest scientific experiments of all time, says The GWPF.

Since the invention of the telescope, the Sun’s activity has been recorded by counting the number of sunspots on its surface. 

According to these records, the number of sunspots rises and falls in an eleven year cycle. 

But scientists have detected a change in the most recent cycle.

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H/T The GWPF

Dr David Whitehouse reviews the history of solar cycle predictions in a new paper by the Global Warming Policy Foundation which is published today. The paper, entitled The Next Solar Cycle, And Why It Matters For Climate, can be downloaded here.
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London, 6 April: A former BBC science correspondent says that there remains a real possibility that unusual solar behaviour could influence the Earth’s climate, bringing cooler temperatures for the next decade.

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Variation in solar activity during a recent sunspot cycle [credit: Wikipedia]


This seems worth another airing in the face of today’s insistent, but evidence-light, claims from climate obsessives that the world’s present and future weather is going to be largely determined by human activities.

If the energy from the sun varies by only 0.1 percent during the 11-year solar cycle, could such a small variation drive major changes in weather patterns on Earth? – asks Universe Today.

Yes, say researchers from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) who used more than a century of weather observations and three powerful computer models in their study.

They found subtle connections between solar cycle, the stratosphere, and the tropical Pacific Ocean that work in sync to generate periodic weather patterns that affect much of the globe.

Scientists say this will help in predicting the intensity of certain climate phenomena, such as the Indian monsoon and tropical Pacific rainfall, years in advance.

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The linked article contains more video material and images.
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In February 2020, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory—SDO—is celebrating its 10th year in space, reports Phys.org.

Over the past decade the spacecraft has kept a constant eye on the sun, studying how the sun creates solar activity and drives space weather—the dynamic conditions in space that impact the entire solar system, including Earth.

Since its launch on Feb. 11, 2010, SDO has collected millions of scientific images of our nearest star, giving scientists new insights into its workings.

SDO’s measurements of the sun—from the interior to the atmosphere, magnetic field, and energy output—have greatly contributed to our understanding of our closest star.

SDO’s images have also become iconic—if you’ve ever seen a close up of activity on the sun, it was likely from an SDO image.

SDO’s long career in space has allowed it to witness nearly an entire solar cycle—the sun’s 11-year cycle of activity.

Here are a few highlights of SDO’s accomplishments over the years.

A Coronal Mass Ejection with the surrounding cloud visible (1999) [image credit: NASA/ESA]


Even non-catastrophic solar storms can be troublesome, such as one in 1967 which nearly triggered nuclear war, according to evidence from retired U.S. Air Force personnel.
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A ‘great’ space weather super-storm large enough to cause significant disruption to our electronic and networked systems occurred on average once in every 25 years, according to a new joint study by the University of Warwick and the British Antarctic Survey.

By analysing magnetic field records at opposite ends of the Earth (UK and Australia), scientists have been able to detect super-storms going back over the last 150 years, reports Phys.org.

This result was made possible by a new way of analysing historical data, pioneered by the University of Warwick, from the last 14 solar cycles, way before the space age began in 1957, instead of the last five solar cycles currently used.

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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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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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Sunspots set a Space Age Record

Posted: December 20, 2019 by oldbrew in Solar physics
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The switch to solar cycle 25 must be getting close, if not here already.

Spaceweather.com

Dec. 17, 2019: Solar Minimum is becoming very deep indeed. Over the weekend, the sun set a Space Age record for spotlessness. So far in 2019, the sun has been without sunspots for more than 271 days, including the last 34 days in a row. Since the Space Age began, no other year has had this many blank suns.

Above: The blank sun on Dec. 16, 2019. Credit: NASA/Solar Dynamics Observatory

The previous record-holder was the year 2008, when the sun was blank for 268 days. That was during the epic Solar Minimum of 2008-2009, formerly the deepest of the Space Age. Now 2019 has moved into first place.

Solar Minimum is a normal part of the 11-year sunspot cycle. The past two (2008-2009 and 2018-2019) have been long and deep, making them “century-class” Minima. To find a year with more blank suns, you have to go back to…

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The article also explains why ‘understanding forced reconnection can help modelers better predict when disruptive high-energy charged particles might come speeding at Earth.’

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory has observed a magnetic explosion the likes of which have never been seen before, reports Phys.org.

In the scorching upper reaches of the Sun’s atmosphere, a prominence—a large loop of material launched by an eruption on the solar surface—started falling back to the surface of the Sun.

But before it could make it, the prominence ran into a snarl of magnetic field lines, sparking a magnetic explosion.

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