Posts Tagged ‘Solar flare’

Could solar flare last week be linked to two major earthquakes yesterday?

April 17, 2013

Like primitive man I am overwhelmed by the power of the Sun and a firm believer that even minute solar effects can have a major effect on the Earth and its systems. (I also note that my deification of the Sun must be similar to that by our ancient ancestors and is probably not unconnected to my moving to Scandinavia). In any case I am convinced that for climate

“Solar effects are much more profound than many so-called climate scientists like to admit”,

but I am not sure how strong the link to earthquakes is.

The link between solar effects (radio flux, sunspots, magnetic reversals, proton events….) and volcano activity and earthquakes has been postulated and studied many times but if any such link does exist it is not something obvious and it is by unknown mechanisms. For some this search for such a link is not “science” and there is no link. For others it can be a lifetime’s quest. But “intuition” and “gut-feeling” keeps me believing that there must be a connection. It could well be that the build-up of stresses upto some “breaking point” within the earths crust are a result of ongoing geologic processes and do not need any external trigger like solar activity or the position of the planets to be unleashed. But even continental drift and the build-up of seismic or volcanic stresses are all – ultimately – driven by energy fluxes. And all energy fluxes on Earth can eventually be traced to the Sun (except perhaps if the energy is from any ongoing nuclear reactions in the Earth’s core).

There were two major earthquakes yesterday – USGS

  1. 6.6, 23km ESE of Aitape, Papua New Guinea, 2013-04-16 22:55:27 UTC, 13.0 km deep
  2. 7.8, 83km E of Khash, Iran, 2013-04-16 10:44:20 UTC, 82.0 km deep

And – I note in passing – on April 11th – 5 days ago there was a solar flare and a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) event. Could be just a coincidence of course – but perhaps not …

Discovery News: APR 11, 2013 03:00 PM ET

The sun has unleashed the biggest solar flare of the year, quickly followed by an Earth-directed coronal mass ejection (CME). Both phenomena have the potential to impact communications and electronics on Earth and in orbit.

Although the sun is currently experiencing “solar maximum” — the culmination of its approximate 11-year cycle — scientists have noted that this particular maximum is a lot quieter than predicted. At this time, the sun should be bubbling with violent active regions, exhibiting sunspots, popping off flares and ejecting CMEs. But so far, the sun seems to be taking it relatively easy.

This morning (at 0716 UT), active region (AR) 1719 erupted with an M-class flare. With a rating of M6.5, this event is the most energetic flare of 2013 (although it’s a lot less impressive than 2012′s X-class fireworks). What’s more, the site of the explosion unleashed a CME in our direction.

A CME is a magnetic ‘bubble’ containing high-energy solar particles. When the CME hits Earth’s global magnetic field, it may align just right to generate a geomagnetic storm. Should this happen, we’ll be able to measure the extreme magnetic distortion of the magnetosphere and bright aurorae at high latitudes may result. Aurorae are caused when solar particles are injected into the polar regions via the Earth’s magnetic field — the particles then collide with atmospheric gases, generating a beautiful light display.

This morning’s CME was clocked traveling at a breakneck speed of 600 miles per second — at that rate it should hit Earth in the early hours of Saturday morning (April 13).

Shortly after the M-class flare erupted, a weak solar energetic particle (SEP) event was detected. This “radiation storm” was the result of relativistic particles slamming into the Earth’s upper atmosphere originating from the flare site.

Image: NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured this image of an M6.5 class flare at 3:16 EDT on April 11, 2013. This image shows a combination of light in wavelengths of 131 and 171 Angstroms. Credit: NASA/SDO

A quiet sun flexes its muscles

February 17, 2011

Update: February 18th 0700 CET

A CME hit Earth’s magnetic field at approximately 0100 UT on Feb. 18th (8:00 pm EST on Feb. 17th). The impact was not as strong as expected considering the cloud’s X-class origin.

Solar Cycle 24 is generally exhibiting a very low level of activity but the sun occasionally does flex its muscles just to show what it is capable of.

Geomagnetic Storm Watch – From the Space Weather Prediction Center: February 16, 2011 — The calm before the storm. Three CMEs are enroute, all a part of the Radio Blackout events on February 13, 14, and 15 (UTC). The last of the three seems to be the fastest and may catch both of the forerunners about mid to late day tomorrow, February 17.

February 17, 2011 — The first interplanetary shock, driven by the CME from Sunday, is expected any time. Soon thereafter, the shock from Monday evening’s R3/CME is due. Look for G1-G2 (and maybe periods of G3 if the following shock compresses and enhances the CME magnetic field). Geomagnetic storming should persist 24- 48 hours. Back at the Sun, Region 1158 is still hot and fast-growing, Region 1161 is producing small flares.

image NOAA

3-day Solar-Geophysical Forecast issued Feb 16 22:00 UTC

Solar Activity Forecast: Solar activity is expected to be moderate with a chance for an isolated major flare for the next three days (17-19 February). Region 1158 is expected to produce more M-class flares and still has the potential for producing an M5 or greater x-ray event. There is a chance for isolated M-class activity from Region 1161.

Geophysical Activity Forecast: The geomagnetic field is expected to be predominately quiet on day one (February 17). An increase to unsettled to active conditions, with a chance for minor storm periods is expected late on day one into day two (18 February). The increased activity is forecast due to the expected arrival of the CME associated with the X2 flare that occurred on 15/0156Z. Day three (19 February) is expected to be quiet to active as the disturbance subsides.

An active Sunday for the Sun

February 14, 2011

An unusually active Sunday for the Sun yesterday mainly from the very large sunspot 1158 with magnetic flux values not seen since 2006.


Solar Flares: Mutiple Solar flares took place around Sprawling Sunspot 1158 on Sunday, including an M6.6 Flare which was the 2nd largest of Cycle 24 thus far.  ….. . There will continue to be a chance for M-Class flares and NOAA also lists a 5% chance for an X-Class event.

Solar Flux 107: For the first time in Cycle 24, the official daily solar flux number measured in Penticton, BC closed above 100. The solar flux of 107 is the highest since September 2005. The last time the solar flux finished above 100 was in December 2006.

Solar Update: Huge sunspot 1158 which is located in the southern hemisphere will continue to be a threat for strong solar flares. Elsewhere, Sunspot 1157 which is in the northern hemisphere showed growth late on Sunday and Sunspot 1160 which rotated into view on the eastern limb has sprouted a few new spots as well. The M6.6 Solar Flare did cause a Radio Blackout on HF which was short lived.

Sunspots (Early Monday): image

NOAA forecast:

Solar Activity Forecast: Solar activity is expected to be low to moderate with a chance for a major x-ray event for days one thru three (14-16 February). Region 1158 continued growth and recent major flare make this region the most likely source for a major event. There is a slight chance for C-class activity from Region 1157 and Region 1159.

Geophysical Activity Forecast: The geomagnetic field is expected to be predominately quiet on day one (14 February). Quiet to unsettled with a chance for active conditions are expected on days two and three (15-16 February), due to a recurrent coronal hole high speed stream becoming geoeffective.

Defence lobbies enlist the sun

September 18, 2010

“Solar flares could paralyse Britain’s power and communications”.

The UK Defence Secretary will next week attend a summit of scientists and security advisers who believe the infrastructure that underpins modern life in Western economies is potentially vulnerable to electromagnetic disruption. Dr Liam Fox will tell the conference he believes there is a growing threat, and he wants to address the “vulnerabilities” in Britain’s high-tech infrastructure. “As the nature of our technology becomes more complex, so the threat becomes more widespread,” he will say.

Brahmos Missiles

The meeting will be addressed by Avi Schnurr, a former US government adviser who said that “super-flares” occur about once every hundred years, meaning the next is overdue. The electrical grid, computers, telephones, transportation, water supply, food production are all vulnerable to a major flare, said Mr Schnurr, who also works for the Israel Missile Defence Association, a lobby group.

David Williams, acting head of the UK Space Agency, told a Commons committee that any negative impacts on technology, particularly satellites, would have “severe problems both short-term and long-term” for Britain.

A few weeks ago the talk was of a Solar Tsunami which turned out to be little more than a pretty ripple.

The Telegraph contributed to the alarmism

That lobbyists will use whatever scare scenario they can find to increase budgets and sales of totally unnecessary equipment (Y2K for example) is understandable. But Ministers are expected to be a little more discerning. Applying the nonsensical precautionary principle for an event that may occur once in a hundred years and which will affect the “enemy” as much as anyone else seems a feeble argument to increase defence budgets.

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