Posts Tagged ‘solar’

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Extreme geomagnetic storms are now thought to occur about once every 45 years, or every four solar cycles, on average.

Spaceweather.com

April 30, 2021: Imagine living in Florida. You’ll never see the Northern Lights … right? Actually, the odds may be better than you think. A new historical study just published in the Journal of Space Climate and Space Weather shows that great aurora storms occur every 40 to 60 years.

“They’re happening more often than we thought,” says Delores Knipp of the University of Colorado, the paper’s lead author. “Surveying the past 500 years, we found many extreme storms producing auroras in places like Florida, Cuba and Samoa.”

This kind of historical research is not easy. Hundreds of years ago, most people had never even heard of the aurora borealis. When the lights appeared, they were described as “fog,” “vapors”, “spirits”–almost anything other than “auroras.” Making a timeline 500 years long requires digging through unconventional records such as personal diaries, ship’s logs, local weather reports–often in languages that are foreign to…

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summer18

UK summer 2018 [image credit: BBC]

The Sun is more than capable of regulating itself. Attempts by humans to interfere with its effects are by definition ill-conceived. No trend in Arctic summer sea ice data since the early 2000s, for example, despite so-called experts claiming it was doomed several years ago, so who needs any intervention?
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Nine of the hottest years in human history [Talkshop comment – meaning since 1979, when satellite data became moderately reliable] have occurred in the last decade.

Without a major shift in this climate trajectory, the future of life on Earth is in question, claims Phys.org.

Should humans, whose fossil-fueled society is driving climate change [Talkshop comment – evidence-free assertion], use technology to put the brakes on global warming?

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Solar activity [image credit: NASA]

What drives the weather can drive the climate. In this case the chances of non-correlation are said to be extremely low.

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A new study shows a correlation between the end of solar cycles and a switch from El Nino to La Nina conditions in the Pacific Ocean, suggesting that solar variability can drive seasonal weather variability on Earth, Phys.org reports.

If the connection outlined in the journal Earth and Space Science holds up, it could significantly improve the predictability of the largest El Nino and La Nina events, which have a number of seasonal climate effects over land.

For example, the southern United States tends to be warmer and drier during a La Nina, while the northern U.S. tends to be colder and wetter.

“Energy from the Sun is the major driver of our entire Earth system and makes life on Earth possible,” said Scott McIntosh, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and co-author of the paper.

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Einstein’s Eclipse

Posted: March 23, 2021 by oldbrew in Astrophysics, Gravity, solar system dynamics
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Some real science to remember.

Spaceweather.com

March 22, 2021: On May 29, 1919, the Moon slid in front of the sun and forever altered our understanding of spacetime. It’s known as “Einstein’s Eclipse.” Using his newly-developed theory of relativity, the young German physicist predicted that the sun’s gravity should bend starlight–an effect which could only be seen during a total eclipse. More than 100 years later, Petr Horálek (ESO Photo Ambassador) and Miloslav Druckmüller (Brno University of Technology) have just released a stunning restoration of the photo that proved Einstein right:

The original picture was taken in May 1919 by astronomers Andrew Crommelin and Charles Rundle Davidson, who traveled from the Greenwich Observatory in London to the path of totality in Sobral, Brazil. They were part of a global expedition organized by Sir Arthur Eddington, who wanted to test Einstein’s strange ideas. Glass photographic plates from the expedition were typical of early 20th century astrophotography, colorless…

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A model for California? [image credit: Hitesh vip @ Wikipedia]


Worth asking what is meant by ‘could be economically feasible’ in this context. Running power stations 24/7 looks a lot simpler than having thousands of miles of solar panels to install and maintain, which sit idle without sunlight.
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UC Santa Cruz researchers published a new study—in collaboration with UC Water and the Sierra Nevada Research Institute at UC Merced—that suggests covering California’s 6,350 km network of public water delivery canals with solar panels could be an economically feasible means of advancing both renewable energy and water conservation.

The concept of “solar canals” has been gaining momentum around the world as climate change increases the risk of drought in many regions, claims TechXplore.

Solar panels can shade canals to help prevent water loss through evaporation, and some types of solar panels also work better over canals, because the cooler environment keeps them from overheating.

Pilot projects in India have demonstrated the technical feasibility of several designs, but none have yet been deployed at scale.

California’s canal network is the world’s largest water conveyance system, and the state faces both a drought-prone future [Talkshop comment: evidence-free assertion] and a rapid timeline for transitioning to renewable energy.

Solar canals could target both challenges, but making the case for their implementation in California requires first quantifying the potential benefits. So that’s exactly what researchers set out to do in their paper published by Nature Sustainability.

“While it makes sense to cover canals with solar panels because renewable energy and water conservation is a win-win, the devil is in the details,” said Brandi McKuin, lead author of the new study and a UC Santa Cruz postdoctoral researcher in environmental studies. “A critical question was whether the infrastructure to span the canals would be cost-prohibitive.”

Canal-spanning solar panels are often supported either by steel trusses or suspension cables, both of which are more expensive to build than traditional support structures for ground-mounted solar panels.

But McKuin led a techno-economic analysis that showed how the benefits of solar canals combine to outweigh the added costs for cable-supported installations. In fact, cable-supported solar canals showed a 20-50 percent higher net present value, indicating greater financial return on investment.

In addition to benefits like increased solar panel performance and evaporation savings, shade from solar panels could help control the growth of aquatic weeds, which are a costly canal maintenance issue. Placing solar panels over existing canal sites could also avoid costs associated with land use.

Now that the new paper has provided a more concrete assessment of these benefits, members of the research team hope this could lead to future field experiments with solar canals in California.

Full article here.

Solar power complex in California [USA. Gov – BLM – Bureau of Land Management]


It was already known that PV systems dislike high heat, which is clearly awkward when they depend on the biggest heat source in the *solar* system in order to be of any use. This study tries to quantify the problem in more detail. On the face of it, carpeting desert regions with solar panels looks less than ideal.
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Lowering the operating temperature of solar panels by just a few degrees can dramatically increase the electricity they generate over their lifetime, KAUST researchers have shown.

The hotter a panel gets, the lower its solar power conversion efficiency (PCE) and the faster it will degrade and fail, says TechXplore.

Finding ways to keep solar panels cool could significantly improve the return on investment of solar-power systems.

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Sunspots


In a recent post we looked at the average daily sunspot numbers, finding that far from the claimed decades-long decline of solar strength, averages were high from 1933-2008 followed by a sharp decline in the recently-ended solar cycle 24.

This time the focus moves to another metric from the same source, Wikipedia’s List of solar cycles.

After the main table of data they introduce another one, stating:
The following table is instead divided into (unofficial) cycles starting and ending with a maximum, to give a better feel for the number of spotless days associated with each minimum.

For this short exercise the ‘Spotless days’ column of data will be split into two groups of six, comparing the overall average of each from the list.

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What if … A Perfect CME Hit Earth?

Posted: January 22, 2021 by oldbrew in solar system dynamics
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Are you sitting comfortably? Well, you might not be after reading this…

Spaceweather.com

Jan. 21, 2021: You’ve heard of a “perfect storm.” But what about a perfect solar storm? A new study just published in the research journal Space Weather considers what might happen if a worst-case coronal mass ejection (CME) hit Earth. Spoiler alert: You might need a backup generator.

For years, researchers have been wondering, what’s the worst the sun could do? In 2014, Bruce Tsurutani (JPL) and Gurbax Lakhina (Indian Institute of Geomagnetism) introduced the “Perfect CME.” It would be fast, leaving the sun around 3,000 km/s, and aimed directly at Earth. Moreover, it would follow another CME, which would clear the path in front of it, allowing the storm cloud to hit Earth with maximum force.

None of this is fantasy. The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) has observed CMEs leaving the sun at speeds up to 3,000 km/s. And there are many documented cases of…

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This quote from the report stood out: ‘there are long-lasting periods of strong and weak solar activity, which is also reflected in the climate on Earth.’ Worth noting as we proceed through a period of weak activity right now.
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An international team of researchers led by ETH Zurich has reconstructed solar activity back to the year 969 using measurements of radioactive carbon in tree rings, reports Phys.org.

Those results help scientists to better understand the dynamics of the sun and allow more precise dating of organic materials using the C14 method.

What goes on in the sun can only be observed indirectly. Sunspots, for instance, reveal the degree of solar activity—the more sunspots are visible on the surface of the sun, the more active is our central star deep inside.

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There may be a place for some use of solar panels, but replacing all fuel-burning power stations isn’t it.

PA Pundits - International

By Bonner Cohen, Ph.D. ~

The chief beneficiary of the incoming Biden administration’s climate agenda will be none other than the People’s Republic of China, the same outfit that brought the world COVID-19.

Purveyors of renewable energy are eager to take advantage of Biden’s pledge to move the U.S. from fossil fuels to renewable energy and are already taking legal action to smooth the transition. On December 29, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and solar-power developers, including NextEra Energy Inc. and Invenergy Renewables LLC, asked the U.S. Court of International Trade to issue an injunction prohibiting an October proclamation by President Trump that raised tariffs on imported solar equipment.

The Trump proclamation removed a tariff exemption on two-sided, or bifacial, solar panels, almost all of which are manufactured in China. As reported by Bloomberg (Dec. 29), the lawsuit contends the Trump administration “failed to follow the required procedures” before…

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Sunspots [image credit: NASA]


Wikipedia’s Solar activity and climate web page says:
Solar activity has been on a declining trend since the 1960s, as indicated by solar cycles 19-24, in which the maximum number of sunspots were 201, 111, 165, 159, 121 and 82, respectively.

We’re probably not surprised that they prefer a metric which appears to support their often-expressed view in various climate-related pages that modern global warming can’t be natural.

But is the sunspot maximum the most relevant metric to judge the level of solar activity by? Another Wikipedia page is its List of Solar Cycles.

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So the greenblob can’t always steamroller local opposition to its land-grabbing subsidy farms. The actual solar panels are not renewable or even recyclable.

PA Pundits - International

By Bonner Cohen, Ph.D. ~

For the second time in 15 months, residents of rural Culpeper County, Virginia have risen up against a proposed massive solar array project, forcing the would-be developers to withdraw their application to put the renewable energy facility in the county’s picturesque rolling farmlands.

North Carolina-based Strata Solar had planned to build the $200 million, 1,700-acre, 149 megawatts project on cleared timberland in southern Culpepper. The land on which the industrial-sized solar array was to be built was zoned agricultural in keeping with the rural character of the area.

Maroon Solar, the name the developer gave to the project, was supposed to be another step on the way to a “carbon-free” energy future, but local officials and nearby residents raised strong objections. The Culpepper County Board of Supervisors (BOS) evaluated the project and, on Nov. 12, held a well-attended, four-hour public hearing on a request by…

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Credit: IEEE Spectrum


Does this by any chance suggest that wind and solar power may not quite be the wondrous energy future our leaders keep trying to hoodwink the public with? No word on costs so far.
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It is thought that energy could be beamed anywhere on the planet, save for the poles, according to the UK Space Agency.

From an idea first mooted in 1941, the UK has launched research into whether solar power in space could be beamed back to Earth as a sustainable energy source, reports Sky News.

The concept was first thought up by science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov; now the UK Space Agency and UK government are aiming to make the idea a reality.

Space-based solar power (SBSP) stations would capture the solar energy emitted by the sun that never makes it to Earth, and beam it back down using lasers to meet energy demands.

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Nyngan solar plant, Australia [image credit: Wikipedia]


This sounds every bit as inefficient as the UK importing wood pellets from North America on an industrial scale, to generate electricity. How the hydrogen might be sent across the world in a ‘green’ way is not mentioned.
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A bilateral agreement aimed at increasing German imports of hydrogen produced from solar power plants in Australia could set a milestone in efforts to establish a global hydrogen market, says Euractiv.

Australia said it wants to become “a powerhouse in hydrogen production and exports” after signing what it described as “a landmark agreement” with Germany on 11 September.

The agreement initiated a joint feasibility study that will look into establishing a green hydrogen supply chain between the two countries.

Australia’s partnership with Germany came in addition to similar deals on green hydrogen made with other countries like Japan, South Korea and Singapore, the Australian trade minister said in a statement.

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Time for climate obsessives to look the other way — again.

PA Pundits - International

By Duggan Flanakin ~

The problem of solar panel waste is now becoming evident. As environmental journalist Emily Folk admits in Renewable Energy Magazine, “when talking about renewable energy, the topic of waste does not often appear.” She attributes this to the supposed “pressures of climate change” and alleged “urgency to find alternative energy sources,” saying people may thus be hesitant to discuss “possible negative impacts of renewable energy.”

Ms. Folk admits that sustainability requires proper e-waste management. Yet she laments, “Solar presents a particular problem. There is growing evidence that broken panels release toxic pollutants … [and] increasing concern regarding what happens with these materials when they are no longer viable, especially since they are difficult to recycle.”

This is the likely reason that (except in Washington state), there are no U.S. mandates for solar recycling. A recent article in Grist reports that most used solar panels are…

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Solar Cycle 25 is here, says NASA

Posted: September 17, 2020 by oldbrew in Cycles, News, solar system dynamics
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The Sun from NASA’s SDO spacecraft


Solar Cycle 25 has begun, according to this NASA press release.

During a media event on Tuesday, experts from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) discussed their analysis and predictions about the new solar cycle – and how the coming upswing in space weather will impact our lives and technology on Earth, as well as astronauts in space.

The Solar Cycle 25 Prediction Panel, an international group of experts co-sponsored by NASA and NOAA, announced that solar minimum occurred in December 2019, marking the start of a new solar cycle.

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It may not even have been the biggest one in recent centuries, and the Quebec Blackout of 1989 wasn’t far behind in intensity.

Spaceweather.com

Sept. 1, 2020: On Sept. 1st, 1859, the most ferocious solar storm in recorded history engulfed our planet. Named “the Carrington event” after British scientist Richard Carrington, who witnessed the flare that started it, the storm rocked Earth’s magnetic field, sparked auroras over Cuba, the Bahamas and Hawaii, set fire to telegraph stations in North America, and wrote itself into history books as the Biggest. Solar. Storm. Ever.

But sometimes what you read in history books is wrong. Modern researchers looking into the Carrington Event are coming to new and different conclusions.

“The Carrington Event was not unique,” says Hisashi Hayakawa of Japan’s Nagoya University, whose recent study of solar storms has uncovered at least two other events of comparable intensity (in 1872 and 1921). “While the Carrington Event has long been considered a once‐in‐a‐century catastrophe, historical observations warn us that this may be something that occurs much more frequently.”

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Reuse, Recycle, Or Just Reduce Solar Panel Waste?

Posted: August 30, 2020 by oldbrew in Critique, Energy
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A preview of ‘the coming panel-demic’.

PA Pundits - International

By Duggan Flanakin ~

Is solar power truly Green?

This question is important, because in today’s world, that which is Green is favored even if it is more expensive and less reliable. We have been taught that solar is Green. But does it pass the Three R’s Test that for 50 years has been the Green standard?

Legend has it that the mantra “reduce, reuse, recycle” entered the collective consciousness somewhere before or after the first national EARTH DAY in 1970. Shortly afterward, President Nixon created the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Congress passed the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

Logic indicates that a Green product should therefore reusable (with reasonable effectiveness) or recyclable (at reasonable cost). If it is neither, then should we not ask whether we just need to reduce its supply (especially since solar energy is intermittent and still requires backup power)?

The EPA website, for…

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Which brings us back to the old conundrum: do cosmic rays affect the Earth’s weather / climate, and if so, how and how much?

Spaceweather.com

August 11, 2020: Cosmic rays are bad–and they’re probably going to get worse.

That’s the conclusion of a new study entitled “Galactic Cosmic Radiation in Interplanetary Space Through a Modern Secular Minimum” just published in the journal Space Weather.

“During the next solar cycle, we could see cosmic ray dose rates increase by as much as 75%,” says lead author Fatemeh Rahmanifard of the University of New Hampshire’s Space Science Center. “This will limit the amount of time astronauts can work safely in interplanetary space.”

spacewalk

Cosmic rays are the bane of astronauts. They come from deep space, energetic particles hurled in all directions by supernova explosions and other violent events. No amount of spacecraft shielding can stop the most energetic particles, leaving astronauts exposed whenever they leave the Earth-Moon system.

Back in the 1990s, astronauts could travel through space for as much as 1000 days before they…

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The Solar Minimum Superstorm of 1903

Posted: July 31, 2020 by oldbrew in Cycles, solar system dynamics
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A message from the past: “The timing of the storm interestingly parallels where we are now–near Solar Minimum just after a weak solar cycle.”

Spaceweather.com

July 29, 2020: Don’t let Solar Minimum fool you. The sun can throw a major tantrum even during the quiet phase of the 11-year solar cycle. That’s the conclusion of a new study published in the July 1st edition of the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

“In late October 1903, one of the strongest solar storms in modern history hit Earth,” say the lead authors of the study,  Hisashi Hayakawa (Osaka University, Japan) and Paulo Ribeiro (Coimbra University, Portugal). “The timing of the storm interestingly parallels where we are now–near Solar Minimum just after a weak solar cycle.”

redlineAbove: The red line marks the 1903 solar superstorm in a plot of the 11-year solar cycle. [ref] The 1903 event wasn’t always recognized as a great storm. Hayakawa and colleagues took an interest in it because of what happened when the storm hit. In magnetic observatories around the world, pens…

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