The Sun Is Spitting Out Strange Patterns Of Gamma Rays—And No One Knows Why

Scientific American article reported at The Global Warming Policy Forum

Our closest star remains an enigma. Every 11 years or so its activity crescendos, creating flares and coronal mass ejections—the plasma-spewing eruptions that shower Earth with charged particles and beautiful auroral displays—but then it decrescendos. The so-called solar maximum fades toward solar minimum, and the sun’s surface grows eerily quiet.

Scientists have studied this ebb and flow for centuries, but only began understanding its effects on our planet at the dawn of the space age in the mid-20th century. Now it is clear that around solar maximum the sun is more likely to bombard Earth with charged particles that damage satellites and power grids. The solar cycle also plays a minor role in climate, as variations in irradiance can cause slight changes in average sea-surface temperatures and precipitation patterns. Thus, a better understanding of the cycle’s physical drivers is important for sustainable living on Earth.

Yet scientists still lack a model that perfectly predicts the cycle’s key details, such as the exact duration and strength of each phase. “I think the solar cycle is so stable and clear that there is something fundamental that we are missing,” says Ofer Cohen, a solar physicist at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. One obstacle to figuring it out, he says, is that crucial details of the apparent mechanisms behind the cycle—such as the sun’s magnetic field—are largely hidden from our view. But that might be about to change.

Tim Linden, an astronomer at The Ohio State University, and his colleagues recently mapped how the sun’s high-energy glow dances across its face over time. They found a potential link between these high-energy emissions, the sun’s fluctuating magnetic field and the timing of the solar cycle. This, many experts argue, could open a new window into the inner workings of our nearest, most familiar star.

In their upcoming study, so far published on the preprint server arXiv and submitted to Physical Review Letters, Linden and his colleagues examined a decade’s worth of data from NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope to better analyze the sun’s emission of gamma rays—the universe’s most energetic form of electromagnetic radiation. To their surprise, the researchers found the most intense gamma rays appear strangely synced with the quietest part of the solar cycle. During the last solar minimum, from 2008 to 2009, Fermi detected eight high-energy gamma rays (each with energies greater than 100 giga–electron volts, or GeV) emitted by the sun. But over the next eight years, as solar activity built to a peak and then regressed back toward quiescence, the sun emitted no high-energy gamma rays at all. The chances of that occurring at random, Linden says, are extremely low. Most likely the gamma rays are triggered by some aspect of the sun’s activity cycle, but the details remain unclear.

The team speculates these gamma rays are likely emitted when powerful cosmic rays—produced throughout the universe by violent astrophysical events like supernovae and colliding neutron stars—slam into the sun’s surface. If a single cosmic ray collides with a particle in the solar atmosphere, it creates a shower of secondary particles and radiation, including gamma rays. Such showers would usually be wholly absorbed by the sun, however. But according to a hypothesis dating back to the 1990s, some of these secondary showers can be bounced out and away from our star by strong fluctuations in its magnetic field. If this is happening, the gamma rays Fermi has been detecting are likely some of those high-energy escapees.

If this interpretation is correct, says Randy Jokipii, a retired astronomer from the University of Arizona who was not involved in the study, it is no surprise high-energy gamma rays are more likely to be emitted during solar minimum. When the solar cycle is at low ebb, he says, there is a reduction in its outgoing “winds” of charged particles—which act as a shield to deflect incoming cosmic rays. This reduction allows more cosmic rays to enter our solar system, and our star itself. So an uptick in cosmic rays should lead to an uptick in gamma rays….

So as the sun meanders back toward solar minimum, astronomers are gearing up to study its gamma rays with the hope they might shed light on its mysterious interior. Although Linden and his colleagues cannot yet explain exactly why or how gamma-ray emission shifts in step with the sun’s magnetic field, it is increasingly clear the two are somehow linked. Moskalenko argues gamma-ray emissions could be used to trace the sun’s deep magnetic fields—and potentially to at last solve the lingering mysteries of the solar cycle.


Cosmic Rays are increasing more details HERE. Are they increasing on the sun and will scientist detect more gamma rays? Your thoughts?

 

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Are Sunspots and Grand Minimums Linked?

Willis Eschenbach in a guest post at Watts Up With That has some insight in an article on the Tools to Spots the Spots

periodograms-sunspots-and-msu-temps

The general thought process is that the lack of sunspots results in lower temperatures on the planet. Long-term loss of sunspots is labeled grand minimums, of which we have identified as Spore, Maunder, and Dalton to name the more well known. The Maunder Minimum is linked to the Little Ice Age. What is the real link between fewer spots and lower temperatures?

Willis’ excellent analysis is an interesting read with supporting graphics. He concludes:

CONCLUSIONS:

• Both the periodogram and the CEEMD analysis are quite capable of identifying a sunspot-related signal in a climate dataset.

• Both the periodogram and the CEEMD analysis are quite capable of distinguishing between a dataset which is even weakly affected by solar variations and a dataset which is not significantly affected by solar variations.

• The CEEMD analysis allows us to verify whether or not two signals which both contain an ~11-year signal are actually related. We can compare the actual signals in the two datasets to see if they agree in phase and in changes in amplitude.

• Although there is a clear solar signal in both the ionosphere and the lower stratosphere, for unknown reasons it does not propagate downwards to the lower troposphere.

If there is no clear solar signal in the lower troposphere, which is where most of our weather takes place, therefore we should be noticing the grand minimum climate change. Are sunspots the link to that change?There is more to this link between lack of spots and lower temperatures that need to be explored.

Your thoughts. What is the real link between lack of spots and lower temperatures?

Miss Global Warming Yet? If Not, Just Wait And You Might

Larry Bell a Space Scientist has some thoughts in a Forbes article. The full article is HERE.

We have discussed global warming and the recent pause in other posts. Bell asked if the planet is going to cool rather then warm as Russian Scientist Dr. Habibullo Abdussamatov claims. Let’s look at this option presented by Bell.

But if you thought global warming was scary, here’s an alternative to consider. Some really smart scientists predict that Planet Earth is now entering a very deep and prolonged cooling period attributable to 100-year record low numbers of sunspots. Periods of reduced sunspot activity correlate with increased cloud-forming influences of cosmic rays. More clouds tend to make conditions cooler, while fewer often cause warming.

Dr. Habibullo Abdussamatov who heads Russia’s prestigious Pulkovo Observatory in St. Petersburg predicts that: “after the maximum of solar Cycle-24, from approximately 2014, we can expect the start of the next bicentennial cycle of deep cooling with a Little Ice Age in 2055 plus or minus 11 years” (the 19th to occur in the past 7,500 years).

Dr. Abdussamatov points out that Earth has experienced such occurrences five times over the last 1,000 years, and that: “A global freeze will come about regardless of whether or not industrialized countries put a cap on their greenhouse gas emissions. The common view of Man’s industrial activity is a deciding factor in global warming has emerged from a misinterpretation of cause and effect.”

While solar output typically goes through 11-year cycles with high numbers of sunspots seen at their peak, we are currently approaching the peak of “Cycle-24” with numbers running at less than half of those observed during other 20th century peaks.

Are scientists such as Dr. Abdussamatov right? Darned if I know! After all, I’ve never claimed to be a real climate scientist like Al Gore or the people who got paid to make those expensive computer program charts. I’m just a space guy. But just on the chance that they are, harsh winter temperatures and shorter growing seasons like those that occurred during the “Little Ice Age” between about 1300-1850 are nothing to wish for.

Shortened, less reliable growing seasons in Europe brought on the Great Famine of 1315-1317. Norse colonies which had settled in a formerly warmer Greenland starved and vanished by the early fifteenth century as crops failed and livestock froze.

During the mid-seventeenth century encroaching glaciers destroyed farms and villages in the Swiss Alps. Sea ice surrounding Iceland closed harbors to shipping. Boxed in and experiencing cereal crop farming failures, Iceland’s population fell by half.

In the late seventeenth century agriculture dropped off so dramatically that Alpine villagers lived on breads made from ground nutshells mixed with barley and oat flour. Famines claimed about ten percent of the people in France, Norway and Sweden, about one-fifth of those in Estonia, and one-third in Finland during the late 1600s.

Near the end of that Little Ice Age Washington’s troops endured brutally cold conditions at Valley Forge during the winter of 1776-77, and Napoleon’s suffered a frigid retreat from Moscow in 1812. New York Harbor froze in 1780, allowing people to walk from Manhattan to Staten Island.

The question is will the impact of a Little Ice Age cooling be as severe in a more modern world? Or, could it be even worse with more mouths to feed in the world, and more people to shelter from the cold and the severe storms the cold will generate. Your thoughts?

 

Cosmic Rays Continue To Intensify As Historic Solar Minimum Approaches

Meteorologist Paul Dorian, Vencore, Inc.

All indications are that the upcoming solar minimum which is expected to begin in 2019 may be even quieter than the last one which was the deepest in nearly a century. One of the natural impacts of decreasing solar activity is the weakening of the ambient solar wind and its magnetic field which, in turn, allows more and more cosmic rays to penetrate the solar system. The intensification of cosmic rays can have important consequences on such things as Earth’s cloud cover and climate, the safety of our astronauts exploring in space, and lightning.

SIDC+DailySunspotNumberSince1900

Daily observations of the number of sunspots since 1 January 1900 according to Solar Influences Data Analysis Center (SIDC). The thin blue line indicates the daily sunspot number, while the dark blue line indicates the running annual average. The recent low sunspot activity is clearly reflected in the recent low values for the total solar irradiance. Data source: WDC-SILSO, Royal Observatory of Belgium, Brussels. Last day shown: 28 February 2018. Last diagram update: 1 March 2018. (Credit climate4you.com)

The Full article is HERE.

Anthony Watts at WUWT has some more graphical input and links to other supporting information on the

Approaching ‘grand solar minimum’ could cause global cooling

HERE.

 

How Activity On The Sun Could Change The Economy

Forbes: Simon Constable reviews Nature’s Third Cycle: A Story of Sunspots by Arnab Rai Choudhuri.

But what has become more apparent based on more recent research from NASA is that we are now in a period of very few or no sunspots. This has coincided with the brutal winter we are going through now.

The question is whether we will enter another grand solar minimum just like the Maunder minimum which if history is a guide would mean a period of much colder weather winters and summers. More than a few experts with whom I speak regularly believe that we shall enter such a grand minimum along with the resulting bone-chilling weather.

If that happens, then there will be profound influences on the economy, including possible crop failures and rising energy use for home and workplace heating. Or in other words, expect bigger bills for food and energy. After a period in which the supply of both has been increasingly abundant then this change will likely come as a shock to many people and likely the broader global economy as well.

Read the full article HERE.

 

 

Solar Variability and Climate Change?

Why has global temperature been increasing since 1980 while solar activity has been decreasing?

A paper by Javier, edited by Andy May at WUWT.

Conclusion:

The answer is that solar variability has multiple effects on climate with different time lags. Total Solar Irradiation variability has a direct effect on temperature within 0-2 years of ~ 0.2 °C (Tung & Camp, 2008) for the 11-year solar cycle. This is the effect accepted by all. The stratospheric effect of UV solar variability influences the North Atlantic oscillation that is lagged by 2-4 years (Scaife et al., 2013). Kobashi et al. 2015 describe a 10-40-year lag on Greenland temperature from ice cores that they attribute to the slowdown of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation and correlates with changes in the wind stress curl in the North Atlantic with a lag of 38 years in solar variability. Several studies correlating changes in tree-ring width and solar variability document a 10-20-year lag (Eichler et al., 2009; Breitenmoser et al., 2012; Anchukaitis et al., 2017).

The existence of multiple lags means that for the full effect of solar variability to be felt on climate there is a delay of ~ 20 years. The delay is due to the recruitment of slower changing atmospheric and oceanic climatic responses.

This means two things:

  • Changes over the 11-year cycle are too fast to have much impact on climate.
  • The general decline in solar activity since 1980 has been felt on climate from ~ 2000, and the low solar activity of SC24 should have a maximum effect on climate ~ 2035.

The evidence suggests that solar variability strongly influences climate change. The solar-hypothesis makes very clear predictions that are the opposite of predictions from the CO2-hypothesis. Regardless of changes in CO2 levels and emissions, the world should not experience significant warming for the period 2000-2035, and might even experience some cooling. If the prediction is correct we can assume that the solar contribution to climate is stronger than the CO2 contribution. Then more warming should take place afterwards.

Full Paper and Comments HERE.

The Worsening Cosmic Ray Situation

Cosmic rays are bad–and they’re getting worse. That’s the conclusion of a new paper just published in the research journal Space Weather. The authors, led by Prof. Nathan Schwadron of the University of New Hampshire, show that radiation from deep space is dangerous and intensifying faster than previously predicted.

Full Article is here.

How does this affect us? Cosmic rays penetrate commercial airlines, dosing passengers and flight crews so much that pilots are classified by the International Commission on Radiological Protection as occupational radiation workers. Some research shows that cosmic rays can seed clouds and trigger lightning, potentially altering weather and climate. Furthermore, there are studies […] linking cosmic rays with cardiac arrhythmias in the general population.

Cosmic rays will intensify even more in the years ahead as the sun plunges toward what may be the deepest Solar Minimum in more than a century. Stay tuned for updates.

If cosmic rays increase cloud cover, this could be how the cooling takes place during grand minimums. We are going to have an opportunity to observe one. Your thoughts?