Posts Tagged ‘solar’

Credit: NASA

The report at Phys.org explains that “Even though the moon blocking the sun during a solar eclipse and clouds blocking sunlight to Earth’s surface are two different phenomena, both require similar mathematical calculations to accurately understand their effects.”

It was mid-afternoon, but it was dark in an area in Boulder, Colorado on Aug. 3, 1998. A thick cloud appeared overhead and dimmed the land below for more than 30 minutes. Well-calibrated radiometers showed that there were very low levels of light reaching the ground, sufficiently low that researchers decided to simulate this interesting event with computer models.

Now in 2017, inspired by the event in Boulder, NASA scientists will explore the moon’s eclipse of the sun to learn more about Earth’s energy system. On Aug. 21, 2017, scientists are looking to this year’s total solar eclipse passing across America to improve our modelling capabilities of Earth’s energy.

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Credit: NASA


Extreme ultraviolet radiation (EUV) is perhaps an aspect of solar activity that gets less attention than it should. The authors make the interesting point in their introduction to the research article that ‘Although the total solar irradiance at Earth varies very little, the relative variance in the EUV is as large as the mean irradiance. This EUV light interacts with Earth’s thermosphere and stratosphere and may affect climate in a “top-down” process in regions such as northern Europe’.

A pair of researchers with Aberystwyth University in the U.K. has used data from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory to learn more about how the sun’s corona behaves over differing stages of its 11-year cycle, reports Bob Yirka at phys.org.

In their paper published on the open access site Science Advances, Huw Morgan and Youra Taroyan describe attributes of the sun they observed over time and what they discovered about the “quiet corona” and its possible impact on us back here on Earth.

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Anyone who fondly imagines that wind and solar power are about to become as cheap as chips in some glorious renewable future, should read this tale of Australian woe.

STOP THESE THINGS

No way back from here: Malcolm muddles & Frydenberg fudges.

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Australia’s energy crisis is a self-inflicted calamity with no apparent end in sight.

The PM, Malcolm Turnbull seems intent on protecting his son, Alex’s investment in Australia’s most notorious wind power outfit, Infigen (see our post here).

While his gormless Energy Minister, Josh Frydenberg behaves like a punch-drunk boxer, who cannot land a punch and with absolutely no idea what’s going on around him.

Into that mix strides Alan Finkel; a boffin tasked with trying to rescue Australia’s power grid from imminent collapse, the consequence of loading it up with intermittent, chaotic and erratic wind and solar power.

Some see Finkel as the Great White Hope.

STT will reserve its judgement on that matter: bright and shiny ideas are one thing, implementing them over a pack of rabid, salivating rent-seekers out to prevent you from doing so is…

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H/T GWPF

Is solar power in terminal decline in Europe, as subsidies and public enthusiasm dwindle?

Germany’s SolarWorld, once Europe’s biggest solar power equipment group, said on Wednesday it would file for insolvency, overwhelmed by Chinese rivals who had long been a thorn in the side of founder and CEO Frank Asbeck, once known as “the Sun King”.

SolarWorld was one of the few German solar power companies to survive a major crisis at the turn of the decade, caused by a glut in production of panels that led prices to fall and peers to collapse, including Q-Cells, Solon and Conergy.

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One thing the Sun has in common with the planets is rotation. ‘Rossby waves, also known as planetary waves, are a natural phenomenon in the atmosphere and oceans of planets that largely owe their properties to rotation of the planet.’ – Wikipedia. New evidence shows these type of waves also exist on the Sun.

Our sun is a chaotic place, simmering with magnetic energy and constantly spewing out particles. Sometimes the sun releases solar flares and coronal mass ejections — huge eruptions of charged particles — which contribute to space weather and can interfere with satellites and telecommunications on Earth.

While it has long been hard to predict such events, new research has uncovered a mechanism that may help forecasting these explosions, reports ScienceDaily. The research finds a phenomenon similar to a common weather system seen on our own planet. Weather on Earth reacts to the influence of jet streams, which blow air in narrow currents around the globe. These atmospheric currents are a type of Rossby wave, movements driven by the planet’s rotation.

Using comprehensive imaging of the entire sun with data from the NASA heliophysics Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory — STEREO — and Solar Dynamics Observatory — SDO — scientists have now found proof of Rossby waves on the sun.
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Quiet sun [image credit: NASA]


Solar variation influencing climate is suddenly plausible, say researchers. Who knew? Well, nearly everyone except climate modellers. Although they still mutter about human influence, the reality of the solar slowdown is starting to bite it seems. If as they suggest ‘A weaker sun could reduce temperatures by half a degree’ what might they expect from a ‘stronger sun’?

For the first time, model calculations show a plausible way that fluctuations in solar activity could have a tangible impact on the climate, reports Phys.org.

Studies funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation expect human-induced global warming to tail off slightly over the next few decades. A weaker sun could reduce temperatures by half a degree.
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Artist’s impression of Dogger Bank island [credit: The Independent]


The construction agreement is planned to be signed on 23 March 2017, reports The Independent.

A vast artificial island is to be built at Dogger Bank in the North Sea, complete with a harbour, airstrip and homes, to help provide a vast new supply of renewable energy, under plans drawn up by two companies with the blessing of the European Union.

The North Sea Wind Power Hub would act as a hub for offshore wind turbines and a new place to put solar panels, according to the German and Dutch arms of electricity firm TenneT and Danish company Energinet. The firms will sign a deal creating a consortium to develop the plan further in Brussels on 23 March in the presence of European Energy Union Commissioner, Maos Sefcovic.

Torben Glar Nielsen, Energinet’s Danish technical director, said: “Maybe it sounds a bit crazy and science fiction-like, but an island on Dogger Bank could make the wind power of the future a lot cheaper and more effective.”
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Solar activity [image credit: NASA]

Solar activity [image credit: NASA]


A tough question on the face of it, but the researchers claim to have unearthed a ‘new type of solar event’ based on evidence from one tree (according to this report).
H/T oldmanK

Nagoya, Japan – An international team led by researchers at Nagoya University, along with US and Swiss colleagues, has identified a new type of solar event and dated it to the year 5480 BC; they did this by measuring carbon-14 levels in tree rings, which reflect the effects of cosmic radiation on the atmosphere at the time, as Scienmag reports.

They have also proposed causes of this event, thereby extending knowledge of how the sun behaves. When the activity of the sun changes, it has direct effects on the earth.

For example, when the sun is relatively inactive, the amount of a type of carbon called carbon-14 increases in the earth’s atmosphere. Because carbon in the air is absorbed by trees, carbon-14 levels in tree rings actually reflect solar activity and unusual solar events in the past.

The team took advantage of such a phenomenon by analyzing a specimen from a bristlecone pine tree, a species that can live for thousands of years, to look back deep into the history of the sun.
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Credit: Imperial College London

Credit: Imperial College London


A small team of researchers with the University of Hawaii, Ponta Grossa State University in Brazil and Stanford University has found what they believe is the reason that the surface of the sun rotates more slowly than its core, reports Phys.org.

In their paper published in the journal Physical Review Letters, the team explains how they used a new technique to measure the speed of the sun’s rotation at different depths and what it revealed about the speed of the sun’s outer 70km deep skin.

Scientists have known for some time that the surface of the sun spins more slowly than its interior but have no good explanation for it. In this new effort, the researchers were able to take a better look at what was occurring and by doing so discovered what they believe is the source of the slowdown.
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Northern Lights illuminate sky over UK [image credit: BBC]

Northern Lights illuminate sky over UK [image credit: BBC]


‘We could see these changes occurring as early as the next few decades’, say the researchers.

Britain may lose the magic of the Northern Lights by the middle of the century due to major shifts in solar activity, scientists have discovered.

Space scientists at the University of Reading conclude that plummeting solar activity will shrink the overall size of the sun’s ‘atmosphere’ by a third and weaken its protective influence on the Earth, reports Phys.org.

This could make the Earth more vulnerable to technology-destroying solar blasts and cancer-causing cosmic radiation, as well as making the aurora less common away from the north and south polar regions for 50 years or more.
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Petrified log at Petrified Forest National Park, AZ [image credit: Jon Sullivan / Wikipedia]

Petrified log at Petrified Forest National Park, AZ
[image credit: Jon Sullivan / Wikipedia]


They seem to base their estimates of the past solar cycle length on a study of only 79 years’ worth of data which is almost certainly too short for high accuracy, but the results are interesting nevertheless.

A pair of German researchers has found evidence in ancient tree rings of a solar sunspot cycle millions of years ago similar to the one observed in more modern times, reports Phys.org.

In their paper published in the journal Geology, Ludwig Luthardt and Ronny Rößler describe how they gathered an assortment of petrified tree samples from a region in Germany and used them to count sunspot cycles.

Scientists know that the sun undergoes a sunspot cycle of approximately 11 years—some spots appear, grow cooler and then slowly move toward the equator and eventually disappear—the changes to the sun spots cause changes to the brightness level of the sun—as the level waxes and wanes, plants here on Earth respond, growing more or less in a given year—this can be seen in the width of tree rings.

In this new effort, the researchers gathered petrified tree samples from a region of Germany that was covered by lava during a volcanic eruption approximately 290 million years ago (during the Permian period), offering a historical record of sun activity.
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Winter solstice sunrise at the historic site in Sicily [image credit: Giuseppe La Spina]

Winter solstice sunrise at the historic site in Sicily [image credit: Giuseppe La Spina]


A team of researchers exploring the southern coast of Sicily have found an intriguing prehistoric calendar rock, reports Ancient Origins.

After conducting some empirical observations, they discovered the rising sun of the winter solstice aligns perfectly with a large hole in a rock formation on a hill near a prehistoric necropolis.

They also discovered a fallen megalith that would have stood directly in front of the hole. Stonehenge-like comparisons abound in the media.
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Solar towers in California [image credit: ucsusa.org]

Solar towers in California [image credit: ucsusa.org]


It may sound good but California’s Mojave project showed projects like this are not always exactly what they may seem. Scorched birds brought bad publicity for example.

The world’s tallest solar tower is currently being constructed in Israel’s Negev desert, the latest example of the Jewish state’s newfound emphasis on renewable energy, The Tower reports. The tower, which will be 250 meters (820 feet) tall, is encircled by around 50,000 mirrors, called heliostats.

Unlike the more common photovoltaic solar panels, which convert sunlight directly into power, the heliostats reflect the sunlight into the tower to heat a boiler, which will produce the steam to spin a turbine to generate electricity. With a taller tower, more mirrors can be placed in a smaller area to reflect the necessary amount of sunlight to run the turbine. 

There are only about a dozen solar tower fields around the world, including one in California with three towers, each of which is 140 meters (460 feet) tall, surrounded by 170,000 heliostats.

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Credit: cherishthescientist.net

Credit: cherishthescientist.net


We’ve ignored the early history and jumped in further on in this Space.com article about sunspots and the solar cycle. The astrophysicist author wonders if it will take another 400 years to figure out why the solar cycle (the period between magnetic reversals) is around 11 years on average. Maybe a few Talkshop posts could be helpful, dare we say?

What the heck was going on to cause these spots? In the early 1900s, a few key observations pointed astronomers and physicists in the right direction. For one, sunspot activity seemed to cycle every 11 years, from lots of sunspots to just a few-sunspots and back to lots of sunspots.

The cycle was even apparent during the weird “Maunder Minimum,” when there was very little activity in the 1600s (the term was coined much later). 

Then there’s the temperature. Sunspots look dark, but that’s only in comparison to the blazing solar surface around them; they’re cooler than the rest of the sun, but still ragingly hot in their own right.

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orbdrag
There seems to be plenty going on up there so how it all works, and how that might affect Earth, must be well worth pursuing. Phys.org reporting. [Click on graphic to enlarge]

Scientists from NASA and three universities have presented new discoveries about the way heat and energy move and manifest in the ionosphere, a region of Earth’s atmosphere that reacts to changes from both space above and Earth below.

Far above Earth’s surface, within the tenuous upper atmosphere, is a sea of particles that have been split into positive and negative ions by the sun’s harsh ultraviolet radiation. Called the ionosphere, this is Earth’s interface to space, the area where Earth’s neutral atmosphere and terrestrial weather give way to the space environment that dominates most of the rest of the universe – an environment that hosts charged particles and a complex system of electric and magnetic fields.

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Sidorenkov and the lunar or tidal year

Posted: November 27, 2016 by oldbrew in climate, Cycles, Maths, moon
Tags: ,

Credit: reference.com

Credit: reference.com


This is an attempt to understand via the numbers the concept proposed by Russian researcher Sidorenkov of a lunar year interacting with the terrestrial year to produce an effect of a ‘quasi-35 year’ climate cycle.

Sidorenkov in his paper ON THE SEPARATION OF SOLAR AND LUNAR CYCLES says:

The lunisolar tides repeat with a period of 355 days,
which is known as the tidal year. This period is also
manifested as a cycle of repeated eclipses. Meteorological
characteristics (pressure, temperature, cloudiness, etc.)
vary with a period of 355 days. The interference of these
tidal oscillations and the usual annual 365-day oscillations
generates beats in the annual amplitude of meteorological
characteristics with a period of about 35 years (Sidorenkov
and Sumerova, 2012b). The quasi 35-year variations in
cloudiness lead to oscillations of the radiation balance
over terrestrial regions. As a result of these quasi-
35-year beats, the climate, for example, over European
Russia alternates between “continental” with dominant
cold winters and hot summers (such as from 1963 to 1975
and from 1995 to 2014) and “maritime” with frequent
warm winters and cool summers (such as from 1956 to
1962 and from 1976 to 1994)

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Where to find Proxima Centauri [credit: Wikipedia]

Where to find Proxima Centauri [credit: Wikipedia]


Co-author Jeremy Drake said: “The existence of a cycle in Proxima Centauri shows that we don’t understand how stars’ magnetic fields are generated as well as we thought we did.” Let the head-scratching begin.

Observations confirm that the closest star to our solar system has a regular magnetic cycle similar to our Sun, reports Sky & Telescope.

With the recent discovery of a potentially habitable planet around Proxima Centauri, astronomers have been studying this star with renewed fervor. Part of their attention focuses on the star’s behavior. M dwarfs are notorious for their flares, and such stellar tantrums could be deadly for budding life on nearby planets.

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Plenty for Talkshoppers to get their teeth into here.

Climate Etc.

by Javier

The role of solar variability on climate change, despite having a very long scientific tradition, is currently downplayed as a climatic factor within the most popular hypothesis for climate change.

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A solar cycle 24 prediction chart [credit:NASA]

A solar cycle 24 prediction chart [credit:NASA]


What follows are extracts, omitting a few of the more technical aspects which can be viewed in the GWPF’s full article here. Possible ‘colder climates’ get a mention.

Sten Odenwald of NASA Heliophysics Education Consortium writes:
Forecasters are already starting to make predictions for what might be in store as our sun winds down its current sunspot cycle in a few years. Are we in for a very intense cycle of solar activity, or the beginning of a century-long absence of sunspots and a rise in colder climates?

Ever since Samuel Schwabe discovered the 11-year ebb and flow of sunspots on the sun in 1843, predicting when the next sunspot cycle will appear, and how strong it will be, has been a cottage industry among scientists and non-scientists alike.

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Credit: Wikipedia

Credit: Wikipedia


Sanity went out of the window some time ago in the Western world’s ideas on electricity supply, and California’s leaders have been keen to lead that type of charge, in league with ‘green’ pressure groups, as Somewhat Reasonable points out.

“California’s largest utility and environmental groups announced a deal Tuesday [June 21] to shutter the last nuclear power plant in the state.” This statement from the Associated Press reporting about the announced closure of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant should startle you.

The news about shutting down California’s last operating nuclear power plant, especially after Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) had sought a 20-year extension of the operating licenses for the two reactors, is disappointing—not startling.

What should pique your ire is that the “negotiated proposal,” as the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) called it, is between the utility company and environmental groups—with no mention of the regulators elected to insure that consumers have efficient, effective and economical electricity.

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