Posts Tagged ‘NASA’

Solar Cycle 24’s double peak is not over yet

November 4, 2013

I thought we had reached solar maximum (albeit at a very low level) for this Solar Cycle 24 about a month ago with a double peak apparently having been evident in May. But the recent burst of solar activity during October suggests that the double peak may not be quite over yet.

SC24 sunspot activity October 2013

SC24 sunspot activity October 2013

Nasa’s prediction for SC24  (Wilson, Hathaway, and Reichmann) now looks like this:

SC24 prediction November 2013

SC24 prediction November 2013

Solar Maximum which was expected this fall may be somewhat delayed and might even be pushed back to the end of 2013.

The activity levels are still historically low and if SC 25 continues at very low levels then we will be getting close to the conditions of the Dalton and perhaps the Maunder Minimum. The sequence of solar cycles SC23,24 and 25 (Landscheidt Minimum) are then to be compared to the sequence of cycles SC4,5 and 6 for the Dalton Minimum whereas the Maunder Minimum corresponds to the period before solar cycle numbering started (prior to SC1).

Solar science is a long, long way from being a settled science and it always amazes me that “climate science”, which is overwhelmingly dependent upon the solar dynamo in its many various forms, can be considered to be settled. And not only settled, but so little dependent upon solar effects!

We ignore the Sun at our peril!

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Solar Cycle 24 has passed its maximum – 25 years of cooling to be expected in this Landscheidt minimum

October 4, 2013

The September sunspot numbers are now out and it would seem that Solar Cycle 24 has passed its maximum. It looks very much like SC23, SC24 and the coming SC25 will be comparable to SC4, 5 and 6. Solar Cycles 5 and 6 were responsible for the Dalton Minimum. SC 24 and 25 will constitute the Landscheidt Minimum and we can now expect some 25 additional years of global cooling (which has of course already started – about 6 or 7 years ago).

LSC: This month was recorded as the lowest month since Jan 2011 which was the beginning of the rampup for SC24. Cycle max is close or passed with the northern hemisphere changing polarity and the south still somewhat floundering. The southern hemisphere just outweighing the northern hemisphere, showing the south is not meeting expectations by some that a second peak will occur. … SIDC 36.9, NOAA unadjusted at 55.0 (prov). 

NASA has made its latest prediction:

SC24 prediction October 2013

SC24 prediction October 2013

The transition from SC 23 to SC 24 looks very similar to that from SC4 to SC5.

SC4-6 and Dalton

SC4-6 and Dalton

Of course the IPCC makes little of any solar effects and while the variation of direct total irradiance is small, they are rather nonchalant about the very many profound ways in which solar effects manifest themselves in climate (via cloud formation and ocean cycles for example). But the global warmists and the IPCC have now so much invested in their increasingly dubious hypothesis that they are prepared to make the most convoluted contortions to deny the hiatus and that global cooling has started.

Judith Curry: 

Section 8.4.1 of the IPCC AR5 Report provides 2 pages of discussion on observations of solar irradiance.  But they conclude that all this doesn’t matter for the climate.  I agree that the TSI RF variations are much less than projected increased forcing due to the GHG.  But the solar-climate connection is probably a lot more complex than this statement implies. …..

…. Henrik Svensmark has an essay While the Sun Sleeps, …..

Solar activity has always varied. Around the year 1000, we had a period of very high solar activity, which coincided with the Medieval Warm Period. But after about 1300 solar activity declined and the world began to get colder. It was the beginning of the episode we now call the Little Ice Age.

It’s important to realise that the Little Ice Age was a global event. It ended in the late 19th Century and was followed by increasing solar activity. Over the past 50 years solar activity has been at its highest since the medieval warmth of 1000 years ago. But now it appears that the Sun has changed again, and is returning towards what solar scientists call a “grand minimum” such as we saw in the Little Ice Age.

The match between solar activity and climate through the ages is sometimes explained away as coincidence. Yet it turns out that, almost no matter when you look and not just in the last 1000 years, there is a link. Solar activity has repeatedly fluctuated between high and low during the past 10,000 years. In fact the Sun spent about 17 per cent of those 10,000 years in a sleeping mode, with a cooling Earth the result.

You may wonder why the international climate panel IPCC does not believe that the Sun’s changing activity affects the climate. The reason is that it considers only changes in solar radiation. That would be the simplest way for the Sun to change the climate – a bit like turning up and down the brightness of a light bulb.

Satellite measurements have shown that the variations of solar radiation are too small to explain climate change. But the panel has closed its eyes to another, much more powerful way for the Sun to affect Earth’s climate. In 1996 we discovered a surprising influence of the Sun – its impact on Earth’s cloud cover. High-energy accelerated particles coming from exploded stars, the cosmic rays, help to form clouds.

[C]limate scientists try to ignore this possibility.  If the Sun provoked a significant part of warming in the 20th Century, then the contribution by CO2 must necessarily be smaller.

The outcome may be that the Sun itself will demonstrate its importance for climate and so challenge the theories of global warming. No climate model has predicted a cooling of the Earth – quite the contrary. ….

 

 

 

Black Holes are not as voracious as they are made out to be

August 30, 2013

I don’t understand the physics of black holes.

But I certainly had the impression that the relentless pull of gravity meant that they ruthlessly devoured everything in their paths and that they were bottomless pits. Everything beyond the event horizon – by definition – was entirely unknown and the stuff – possibly – of new Universes.

Not so – according to NASA. “Contrary to what some people think, black holes do not actually devour everything that’s pulled towards them. Sgr A* is apparently finding much of its food hard to swallow.” And so the black hole spits out what it can’t swallow!

Q. D. Wang, M. A. Nowak, S. B. Markoff, F. K. Baganoff, S. Nayakshin, F. Yuan, J. Cuadra, J. Davis, J. Dexter, A. C. Fabian, N. Grosso, D. Haggard, J. Houck, L. Ji, Z. Li, J. Neilsen, D. Porquet, F. Ripple, and R. V. Shcherbakov. Dissecting X-ray–Emitting Gas Around the Center of Our GalaxyScience, 2013; 341 (6149): 981-983 DOI:10.1126/science.1240755

NASA Press Release:

New Chandra images of Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*), which is located about 26,000 light-years from Earth, indicate that less than 1 percent of the gas initially within Sgr A*’s gravitational grasp ever reaches the point of no return, also called the event horizon. Instead, much of the gas is ejected before it gets near the event horizon and has a chance to brighten, leading to feeble X-ray emissions.

These new findings are the result of one of the longest observation campaigns ever performed with Chandra. The spacecraft collected five weeks’ worth of data on Sgr A* in 2012. The researchers used this observation period to capture unusually detailed and sensitive X-ray images and energy signatures of super-heated gas swirling around Sgr A*, whose mass is about 4 million times that of the sun.

“We think most large galaxies have a supermassive black hole at their center, but they are too far away for us to study how matter flows near it,” said Q. Daniel Wang of the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, who led of a study published Thursday in the journal Science. “Sgr A* is one of very few black holes close enough for us to actually witness this process.”

The researchers found that the Chandra data from Sgr A* did not support theoretical models in which the X-rays are emitted from a concentration of smaller stars around the black hole. Instead, the X-ray data show the gas near the black hole likely originates from winds produced by a disk-shaped distribution of young massive stars.

“This new Chandra image is one of the coolest I’ve ever seen,” said co-author Sera Markoff of the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. “We’re watching Sgr A* capture hot gas ejected by nearby stars, and funnel it in towards its event horizon.”

To plunge over the event horizon, material captured by a black hole must lose heat and momentum. The ejection of matter allows this to occur.

“Most of the gas must be thrown out so that a small amount can reach the black hole”, said Feng Yuan of Shanghai Astronomical Observatory in China, the study’s co-author. “Contrary to what some people think, black holes do not actually devour everything that’s pulled towards them. Sgr A* is apparently finding much of its food hard to swallow.”

The gas available to Sgr A* is very diffuse and super-hot, so it is hard for the black hole to capture and swallow it. The gluttonous black holes that power quasars and produce huge amounts of radiation have gas reservoirs much cooler and denser than that of Sgr A*. ….

For Chandra images, multimedia and related materials, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/chandra

Asymmetric reversal of the Sun’s magnetic field is under way – NASA

August 6, 2013

The sun’s magnetic field reverses roughly every 11 years at solar maximum. We are now approaching solar maximum of solar cycle 24 (SC 24) but this magnetic reversal is strongly assymetric according to NASA:

“The sun’s north pole has already changed sign, while the south pole is racing to catch up,” says Scherrer. Soon, however, both poles will be reversed, and the second half of Solar Max will be underway.”

The North pole of the sun switched polarity in mid-2012 which seemed early at the time since solar maximum was not expected till the fall of 2013. It is difficult to imagine that there will not be consequences for the Earth but what those consequences might be is not a “settled science”.

Certainly geomagnetic reversals on Earth have more to do with the flow patterns in the earth’s liquid core and have quite different time periods. The time span between geomagnetic reversals on the Earth vary between 0.1 and 1 million years with an average of 450,000 years.

The latest one, the Brunhes–Matuyama reversal, occurred 780,000 years ago. However,a study published in 2012 by a group from the German Research Center for Geosciences suggests that a brief complete reversal occurred only 41,000 years ago during the last glacial period. The reversal lasted only about 440 years with the actual change of polarity lasting around 250 years.

From Dr. Leif Svalgaard’s research page:

Solar magnetic reversal cycle

The NASA press release says:

August 5, 2013:  Something big is about to happen on the sun.  According to measurements from NASA-supported observatories, the sun’s vast magnetic field is about to flip.

“It looks like we’re no more than 3 to 4 months away from a complete field reversal,” says solar physicist Todd Hoeksema of Stanford University. “This change will have ripple effects throughout the solar system.”

(more…)

Solar Cycle 24 double peak now clearly evident

May 9, 2013

Already in March there were signs that this Solar Cycle 24 would exibit a double peak. NASA’s latest sunspot prediction for Solar Cycle 24 as of 1st May 2013 clearly shows that the sunspot activity is into its “double peak for this Cycle. A double peak was also evident in Cycles 22 and 23 and also in Cycles 5 and 14. The levels for SC24 are still going to be the lowest for 100 years and predictions for SC 25 are that they will be even lower still. Most second peaks have been somewhat smaller than the first – though not in SC5 – and seem to add around 6 months to the cycle time.

If this is indeed a double peak then I expect that solar maximum will perhaps be a few months delayed from the NASA prediction of Fall 2013. End 2013 now seems more likely.

SC24 may 2013

The Dalton minimum spanned Solar Cycles 5 and 6 from 1790 to 1820.  The Maunder Minimum from 1645 to 1715 preceded the numbering of Solar Cycles (Solar Cycle 1 started in 1755). The likelihood that SC 24 and 25 may be similar to SC 5 and 6 is growing and so is the likelihood that we will see 2  – 3 decades of global cooling. It is more likely that for the next 20- 30 years this Landscheidt Minimum will resemble the Dalton Minimum period, but if SC25 is a very small cycle then we may even approach the conditions of the Little Ice Age during the Maunder Minimum. Landscheidt’s prediction was that this minimum would last from 2000 to 2060 and the global temperature stand-still for the last 15 years gives greater credence to his forecasts.

NASA: The Sunspot Cycle —

The Maunder Minimum

Early records of sunspots indicate that the Sun went through a period of inactivity in the late 17th century. Very few sunspots were seen on the Sun from about 1645 to 1715 (38 kb JPEG image). Although the observations were not as extensive as in later years, the Sun was in fact well observed during this time and this lack of sunspots is well documented. This period of solar inactivity also corresponds to a climatic period called the “Little Ice Age” when rivers that are normally ice-free froze and snow fields remained year-round at lower altitudes. There is evidence that the Sun has had similar periods of inactivity in the more distant past. The connection between solar activity and terrestrial climate is an area of on-going research.

Climate forcing: Missing water must be hiding in the deep ocean

April 19, 2013

Clive Best points out that NASA data shows quite clearly that water vapour in the atmosphere has been decreasing quite significantly especially since about 1998 while carbon dioxide has continued rising. All the wonderful climate models (settled science after all) take it for granted that increased water vapour in the atmosphere is a key forcing caused by increasing carbon dioxode.

I wonder where the water went?

Presumably hiding along with all the missing heat in the deep oceans!

And causing the sea level to increase no doubt.

The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of water in the atmosphere and it is a travesty that we can’t.

H2O decreasing while CO2 rises !

Posted on April 18, 2013 by Clive Best

Dire predictions of global warming all  rely on positive feedback from  water vapor. The argument goes that as surface temperatures rise so  more water will evaporate from the oceans thereby amplifying temperatures because H2O itself is a strong GHG.  Climate models all assume net amplification factors of between 1.5 and 6. But in the real world has the water content of the atmosphere actually been increasing as predicted?

NASA have just released their latest NVAP-M  survey of global  water content derived from satellite data and radio-sondes over the period from 1988 to 2009. This new data is explicitly intended for climate studies . So lets take a look at the comparison between actual NVAP-M atmospheric H2O levels and those of CO2 as measured at Mauna Loa. I have extracted all the daily measurement NVAP-M data and then calculated the global average. Figure 1 shows the running 30 day average of all the daily data recorde between 1988 and 2009 inclusive. The 365 day (yearly) running average is also shown. Plotted on the right hand scale are the Mauna Loa CO2 concentration data in red over the same period.

Fig1: Total precipitative H2O (running 30 day average) compared to Mauna Loa CO2 data in red. The central black curve is a running 365 day average.

Fig1: Total precipitative H2O (running 30 day average) compared to Mauna Loa CO2 data in red. The central black curve is a running 365 day average.

There is indeed some correlation in the data from 1988 until 1998, but thereafter the two trends diverge dramatically. Total atmospheric water content actually falls despite a relentless slow rise in CO2. This fall in atmospheric H2O also coincides with the observed and now widely accepted stalling of global temperatures over the last 16 years. All climate models (that I am aware of) predict exactly the opposite, so something is clearly amiss with theory. Is it not now time for “consensus” climate scientists perhaps to have a rethink ?

more to follow…

  1. My thanks to Ken Gregory for help with the  data. The conversion from NetCDF was a bit of a nightmare !
  2. NASA NVAP-M data is available here. Thanks to NASA Water Vapor Project-Measures (NVAP-M) team.

Anthony Watts in a comment does point out that sensor degradation or failure would need to be eliminated. (But I wonder why sensor integrity would not have been checked by NASA before the data was published as data)

James Hansen’s exit strategy unfolding as he retires from NASA

April 2, 2013

It was just last week that I asked “Are global warmists preparing exit strategies?”, about warmists in general and about James Hansen in particular.

And today the New York Times reports that Hansen is to retire from NASA – ostensibly to free his hands as an activist. But it has been his association with NASA which has given him the pondus he has had in the global warming priesthood. He has been an embarrassment to NASA for some time but he is 72 and is surely ripe for retirement. I suspect he actually did resign (rather than being required to resign) and his “exit strategy” is playing out. It will allow him to fade quietly out of the alarmist picture he helped create before it is erased completely.

New York Times: James E. Hansen, the climate scientist who issued the clearest warning of the 20th century about the dangers of global warming, will retire from NASA this week, giving himself more freedom to pursue political and legal efforts to limit greenhouse gases.

….. At the same time, retirement will allow Dr. Hansen to press his cause in court. He plans to take a more active role in lawsuits challenging the federal and state governments over their failure to limit emissions, for instance, as well as in fighting the development in Canada of a particularly dirty form of oil extracted from tar sands.

“As a government employee, you can’t testify against the government,” he said in an interview.

Dr. Hansen had already become an activist in recent years, taking vacation time from NASA to appear at climate protests and allowing himself to be arrested or cited a half-dozen times.

But those activities, going well beyond the usual role of government scientists, had raised eyebrows at NASA headquarters in Washington. “It was becoming clear that there were people in NASA who would be much happier if the ‘sideshow’ would exit,” Dr. Hansen said in an e-mail.

Soyuz docks with ISS in record time

March 29, 2013

An update to my previous post.

Deutsche Welle:

A Soyuz capsule carrying three astronauts has docked at the International Space Station, just six hours after blasting off. Typically, manned Soyuz flights to the ISS last more than two days.

Russian cosmonauts Pavel Vinogradov and Alexander Misurkin and US astronaut Chris Cassidy took the express route to the International Space Station overnight Thursday, docking in the early hours of Friday morning.

They will join three other crew members and remain on board for five months.

“It’s such a beautiful sight, hard to believe my eyes,” the 59-year-old Vinogradov, making his third visit to space, said in footage broadcast on NASA TV.

Lift-off today for 6 hour fast-track journey to the ISS

March 28, 2013

The International Space Station‘s orbit varies between altitudes of 330 – 410 km and it orbits the Earth about 15 times a day. So a journey taking 6 hours to scale about 70 km of altitude per hour may not seem so impressive compared to the speeds on a German autobahn. But a trip which used to be completed on the 3rd day and 34 orbits after lift-off is going to be covered in 5hrs 49 mins and 4 orbits after launch later today. For its 3-man crew, the Soyuz craft can only carry enough fuel and supplies for at most a 4 day journey, so this fast-track approach will represent a major saving of fuel and supplies.

Soyuz is the longest serving manned spacecraft...

Soyuz is the longest serving manned spacecraft design in history (1967– ) , upgraded regularly (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From Space.com

(Following three unmanned, cargo-only test flights, the Expedition 35/36 crew is the first to try the technique. For the Soyuz crew of three, the fast track rendezvous is much the same as before, except that tasks are compressed.)

NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Russian cosmonauts Alexander Misurkin and Pavel Vinogradov are due to arrive at the orbiting laboratory just six hours after they launch at 4:43 p.m. EDT (2043 GMT). The liftoff will begin a months-long mission in orbit for the three men.

The trio will blast off from the Central Asian spaceport of Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. The mission’s Soyuz rocket rolled out to the launch pad on Tuesday (March 26) to prepare for today’s liftoff.

In the nearly 13 years since crews first began launching to the International Space Station, it has taken Russian Soyuz capsules and U.S. space shuttles about two days to reach the orbiting lab after liftoff. Now, NASA and Russia’s Federal Space Agency are testing out a new, accelerated schedule. The quick journey, which takes just four orbits of Earth, has been carried out by recent unmanned cargo spacecraft visiting the space station, but never by a crew.

Cassidy, Misurkin and Vinogradov are planning to join the station’s Expedition 35 mission for a roughly six-month stay. The current residents of the outpost are commander Chris Hadfield of Canada, Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko, and NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn.

Infographic: How astronauts are traveling to the International Space Station in hours instead of days.

Double peak in Solar Cycle 24? as in SC14 and in SC5?

March 4, 2013

The NOAA/NASA Solar Cycle Prediction Panel is puzzled. They don’t know if we are reaching solar maximum or whether another little peak could be on its way which would shift solar maximum for SC24 to 2014 from 2013.

And should we compare SC24 with SC14 or should it be SC5?

But SC24 will still show the lowest sunspot activity for 100 years. I note that not only SC14 but even SC5 had a double peak – so my expectation remains that this Landscheidt Minimum may be comparable to the Dalton Minimum – though not perhaps to the Maunder Minimum.

credit Dr. Tony Phillips

credit Dr. Tony Phillips

This Sciencecast video is a good summary of what we don’t know:

Landscheidt’s prediction is that this Minimum will last till 2060 so we can expect low sunspot activity for the next 4 sunspot cycles (till SC28).

Landscheidt’s predicted solar minima

The Sc24 –  SC5 comparison looks like a repeating pattern but it would be wrong to assume that the Sun cares about this and it will surely continue to keep us perplexed as it does its own thing.

SC24 compared to SC5

The Big Picture is persuasive – even if we don’t really know what the sun is upto and even less about how the Earth dances to the Sun’s music.

Recent solar activity (Wikipedia) showing the Maunder and Dalton minima

Related:

Solar cycles and the Landscheidt minimum

Theodor landscheidt: Sun-Earth-Man and the Kepler ratios


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