Second Wave

               For Spiritually Evolving Humans


THE SUNSPOT ENIGMA: THE SUN IS “DEAD” — WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR EARTH?

Joanie June 11th, 2008

“Dana Longcope, a solar physicist at MSU, said the sun usually operates on an
11-year cycle with maximum activity occurring in the middle of the cycle.
The last cycle reached its peak in 2001 and is believed to be just ending
now, Longcope said. The next cycle is just beginning and is expected to
reach its peak sometime around 2012. But so far nothing is happening.”

This article was interesting to me because I was under the impression that the sun has been much more active over the last few years. But apparently the opposite is true. And this lack of activity actually indicates a cooling trend, not a warming. And furthermore, the current cycle is expected to peak right about… 2012. Oh, there’s so much we don’t know!

Joanie

THE SUNSPOT ENIGMA: THE SUN IS “DEAD” — WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR EARTH?
By Rebecca Sato
Daily Galaxy
June 11, 2008

http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2008/06/the-sunspot-mys.html

Dark spots, some as large as 50,000 miles in diameter, typically move across
the surface of the sun, contracting and expanding as they go. These strange
and powerful phenomena are known as sunspots, but now they are all gone. Not
even solar physicists know why it¹s happening and what this odd solar
silence might be indicating for our future.

Although periods of inactivity are normal for the sun, this current period
has gone on much longer than usual and scientists are starting to worry –
at least a little bit. Recently 100 scientists from Europe, Asia, Latin
America, Africa and North America gathered to discuss the issue at an
international solar conference at Montana State University. Today’s sun is
as inactive as it was two years ago, and solar physicists don¹t have a clue
as to why.

“It continues to be dead,” said Saku Tsuneta with the National Astronomical
Observatory of Japan, program manager for the Hinode solar mission, noting
that it is at least a little bit worrisome for scientists.

Dana Longcope, a solar physicist at MSU, said the sun usually operates on an
11-year cycle with maximum activity occurring in the middle of the cycle.
The last cycle reached its peak in 2001 and is believed to be just ending
now, Longcope said. The next cycle is just beginning and is expected to
reach its peak sometime around 2012. But so far nothing is happening.

“It’s a dead face,” Tsuneta said of the sun’s appearance.

Tsuneta said solar physicists aren’t weather forecasters and they can’t
predict the future. They do have the ability to observe, however, and they
have observed a longer-than-normal period of solar inactivity. In the past,
they observed that the sun once went 50 years without producing sunspots.
That period coincided with a little ice age on Earth that lasted from 1650
to 1700. Coincidence? Some scientists say it was, but many worry that it
wasn¹t.

Geophysicist Phil Chapman, the first Australian to become an astronaut with
NASA, said pictures from the US Solar and Heliospheric Observatory also show
that there are currently no spots on the sun. He also noted that the world
cooled quickly between January last year and January this year, by about
0.7C.

“This is the fastest temperature change in the instrumental record, and it
puts us back to where we were in 1930,” Dr Chapman noted in The Australian
today.

If the world does face another mini Ice Age, it could come without warning.
Evidence for abrupt climate change is readily found in ice cores taken from
Greenland and Antarctica. One of the best known examples of such an event is
the Younger Dryas cooling, which occurred about 12,000 years ago, named
after the arctic wildflower found in northern European sediments. This event
began and ended rather abruptly, and for its entire 1000 year duration the
North Atlantic region was about 5°C colder. Could something like this happen
again? There¹s no way to tell, and because the changes can happen all within
one decade — we might not even see it coming.

The Younger Dryas occurred at a time when orbital forcing should have
continued to drive climate to the present warm state. The unexplained
phenomenon has been the topic of much intense scientific debate, as well as
other millennial scale events.

Now this 11-year low in Sunspot activity has raised fears among a small but
growing number of scientists that rather than getting warmer, the Earth
could possibly be about to return to another cooling period. The idea is
especially intriguing considering that most of the world is in preparation
for global warming.

Canadian scientist Kenneth Tapping of the National Research Council has also
noted that solar activity has entered into an unusually inactive phase, but
what that means — if anything — is still anyone¹s guess. Another solar
scientist, Oleg Sorokhtin, a fellow of the Russian Academy of Natural
Sciences, however, is certain that it¹s an indication of a coming cooling
period.

Sorokhtin believes that a lack of sunspots does indicate a coming cooling
period based on certain past trends and early records. In fact, he calls
manmade climate change “a drop in the bucket” compared to the fierce and
abrupt cold that can potentially be brought on by inactive solar phases.

Sorokhtin¹s advice: “Stock up on fur coats”Sjust in case.

———–

SUN GOES LONGER THAN NORMAL WITHOUT PRODUCING SUNSPOTS
ScienceDaily
June 9, 2008

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080609124551.htm

The sun has been lying low for the past couple of years, producing no
sunspots and giving a break to satellites.

That’s good news for people who scramble when space weather interferes with
their technology, but it became a point of discussion for the scientists who
attended an international solar conference at Montana State University.
Approximately 100 scientists from Europe, Asia, Latin America, Africa and
North America gathered June 1-6 to talk about “Solar Variability, Earth’s
Climate and the Space Environment.”

The scientists said periods of inactivity are normal for the sun, but this
period has gone on longer than usual.

“It continues to be dead,” said Saku Tsuneta with the National Astronomical
Observatory of Japan, program manager for the Hinode solar mission. “That’s
a small concern, a very small concern.”

The Hinode satellite is a Japanese mission with the United States and United
Kingdom as partners. The satellite carries three telescopes that together
show how changes on the sun’s surface spread through the solar atmosphere.
MSU researchers are among those operating the X-ray telescope. The satellite
orbits 431 miles above ground, crossing both poles and making one lap every
95 minutes, giving Hinode an uninterrupted view of the sun for several
months out of the year.

Dana Longcope, a solar physicist at MSU, said the sun usually operates on an
11-year cycle with maximum activity occurring in the middle of the cycle.
Minimum activity generally occurs as the cycles change. Solar activity
refers to phenomena like sunspots, solar flares and solar eruptions.
Together, they create the weather than can disrupt satellites in space and
technology on earth.

The last cycle reached its peak in 2001 and is believed to be just ending
now, Longcope said. The next cycle is just beginning and is expected to
reach its peak sometime around 2012. Today’s sun, however, is as inactive as
it was two years ago, and scientists aren’t sure why.

“It’s a dead face,” Tsuneta said of the sun’s appearance.

Tsuneta said solar physicists aren’t like weather forecasters; They can’t
predict the future. They do have the ability to observe, however, and they
have observed a longer-than-normal period of solar inactivity. In the past,
they observed that the sun once went 50 years without producing sunspots.
That period, from approximately 1650 to 1700, occurred during the middle of
a little ice age on Earth that lasted from as early as the mid-15th century
to as late as the mid-19th century.

Tsuneta said he doesn’t know how long the sun will continue to be inactive,
but scientists associated with the Hinode mission are ready for it to resume
maximum activity. They have added extra ground stations to pick up signals
from Hinode in case solar activity interferes with instruments at other
stations around the world. The new stations, ready to start operating this
summer, are located in India, Norway, Alaska and the South Pole.

Establishing those stations, as well as the Hinode mission, required
international cooperation, Tsuneta said. No one country had the resources to
carry out those projects by itself.

Four countries, three space agencies and 11 organizations worked together on
Hinode which was launched in September 2006, Tsuneta said. Among the
collaborators was Loren Acton, a research professor of physics at MSU.
Tsuneta and Acton worked together closely from 1986-2002 and were reunited
at the MSU conference.

“His leadership was immense, superb,” Tsuneta said about Acton.

Acton, 72, said he is still enthused by solar physics and the new questions
being raised. In fact, he wished he could knock 22 years off his age and
extend his career even longer.

“It’s too much fun,” he said. “There’s so much exciting stuff come up, I
would like to be part of it.”

…………

NHNE Climate Change Resource Page:
http://www.nhne.org/tabid/490/Default.aspx

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