Articles Tagged "Solar News"

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Why NASA Keeps a Close Eye on the Sun's Irradiance by Adam Voiland
Wednesday, May 26th 2010, 9:45 AM EDT
Co2sceptic (Site Admin)
Image Attachment( -- For more than two centuries, scientists have wondered how much heat and light the sun expels, and whether this energy varies enough to change Earth’s climate. In the absence of a good method for measuring the sun's output, the scientific conversation was often heavy with speculation.

By 1976, that began to change when Jack Eddy, a solar astronomer from Boulder, Colo., examined historical records of sunspots and published a seminal paper that showed some century-long variations in solar activity are connected with major climatic shifts. Eddy helped show that an extended lull in solar activity during the 17th Century --called the Maunder Minimum -- was likely connected to a decades-long cold period on Earth called the "Little Ice Age."

Two years after Eddy published his paper, NASA launched the first in a series of satellite instruments called radiometers, which measure the amount of sunlight striking the top of Earth's atmosphere, or total solar irradiance. Radiometers have provided unparalleled details about how the sun's irradiance has varied in the decades since. Such measurements have helped validate and expand upon Eddy's findings. And they've led to a number of other discoveries—and questions—about the sun.

Without radiometers, scientists would probably still wonder how much energy the sun emits and whether it varies with the sunspot cycle. They wouldn't know of the competition between dark sunspots and bright spots called faculae that drives irradiance variations.

And they’d have little chance of answering a question that continues to perplex solar experts today: Has overall irradiance changed progressively throughout the past three 11-year cycles, or are variations in the sun's irradiance limited to a single cycle?
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Say Goodbye to Sunspots? by Phil Berardelli
Wednesday, September 15th 2010, 7:50 AM EDT
Co2sceptic (Site Admin)
Scientists studying sunspots for the past 2 decades have concluded that the magnetic field that triggers their formation has been steadily declining. If the current trend continues, by 2016 the sun's face may become spotless and remain that way for decades—a phenomenon that in the 17th century coincided with a prolonged period of cooling on Earth.

Sunspots appear when upwellings of the sun's magnetic field trap ionized plasma—or electrically charged, superheated gas—on the surface. Normally, the gas would release its heat and sink back below the surface, but the magnetic field inhibits this process. From Earth, the relatively cool surface gas looks like a dark blemish on the sun.

Astronomers have been observing and counting sunspots since Galileo began the practice in the early 17th century. From those studies, scientists have long known that the sun goes through an 11-year cycle, in which the number of sunspots spikes during a period called the solar maximum and drops—sometimes to zero—during a time of inactivity called the solar minimum.

The last solar minimum should have ended last year, but something peculiar has been happening. Although solar minimums normally last about 16 months, the current one has stretched over 26 months—the longest in a century. One reason, according to a paper submitted to the International Astronomical Union Symposium No. 273, an online colloquium, is that the magnetic field strength of sunspots appears to be waning.

Click source to read FULL report from Phil Berardelli
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Sun Run of 41 Days Without a Spot Now Among the Top 10 Longest by Joseph D’Aleo (IceCap.US)
Friday, August 21st 2009, 9:14 AM EDT
Co2sceptic (Site Admin)
Image AttachmentToday, Thursday, August 20th marked the 41st straight day without a sunspot, one of the longest stretches this solar minimum.

In fact it rises into 10th place among all spotless periods since 1849 (first table here). The total number of spotless days this transition from cycle 23 to 24 is now 694 rapidly approaching the approximate number leading into cycle 15 in the early 1900s (below, enlarged here).
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The Sun and Oceans Join the Climate Club by Michael Marshall, The New Scientist via
Sunday, September 26th 2010, 7:18 AM EDT
Co2sceptic (Site Admin)
Editorial: The sun’s activity has a place in climate science

THE idea that changes in the sun’s activity can influence the climate is making a comeback, after years of scientific vilification, thanks to major advances in our understanding of the atmosphere.

The findings do not suggest - as climate sceptics frequently do - that we can blame the rise of global temperatures since the early 20th century on the sun. (ICECAP NOTE: no you can blame a goodly portion on the global data center manipulation and population more than quadrupling enhancing heat island contamination)."There are extravagant claims for the effects of the sun on global climate,” says Giles Harrison, an atmospheric physicist at the University of Reading, UK. “They are not supported.”

Where solar effects may play a role is in influencing regional weather patterns over the coming decades. Predictions on these scales of time and space are crucial for nations seeking to prepare for the future.

Over the famous 11-year solar cycle, the sun’s brightness varies by just 0.1 per cent. This was seen as too small a change to impinge on the global climate system, so solar effects have generally been left out of climate models. However, the latest research has changed this view, and the next report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), due in 2013, will include solar effects in its models.
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Latest solar flare is largest of this solar cycle by Brent McGrady
Monday, February 14th 2011, 1:28 PM EST
Co2sceptic (Site Admin)
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The NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory is reporting this afternoon that a medium sized solar flare with a magnitude of 6.6 ejected off the surface of the sun today launching a coronal mass ejection towards Earth. The flare reached its maximum at 17:38 UTC, or 12:38 PM EST. The eruption began at 1728 UTC and ended at 1747 UTC, lasting 19 minutes. According to NASA, the location was at S21E05 on the sun, ejecting from sunspot #1158, and was a moderate solar flare.

According to the Facebook page for the Solar Dynamics Observatory, there are 3 categories of solar flares. X-class flares are big and are major events that can trigger planet-wide radio blackouts and long-lasting radiation storms. M-class flares, which occurred today, are medium-sized and can cause brief radio blackouts that affect Earth's polar regions. Minor radiation storms sometimes follow an M-class flare. Compared to X- and M-class events, C-class flares are small with few noticeable consequences here on Earth.
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Sun's long slumber a wake-up call to solar scientists by Paul Morgan,
Monday, January 18th 2010, 11:25 AM EST
Co2sceptic (Site Admin)
The sun once was considered a steady star without change. The sun's energy output, as measured above the earth's atmosphere, was called “the solar constant.” As astronomers studied the sun, they realized that this notion wasn't quite correct. They found that the solar output varied slightly by a few tenths of a percent. The amount rose when the sun was active (solar maximum) and declined when it was quiet (solar minimum).

Solar astronomers counted the number of dark spots on the disk of the sun to gauge the sun's activity. In 1843, a German amateur astronomer, Samuel H. Schwabe, realized that the number of sunspots varied over time. The average cycle goes from a few to many spots and back in about 11 years. A few years later, Rudolph Wolf, a Swiss astronomer, confirmed the roughly 11-year cycle. He numbered the sun spot cycles beginning in 1755 as Cycle Number One. In 1852, four astronomers realized that the activity of the sun and the geomagnetic activity on earth were interrelated. That was the beginning of the sun-earth connection and space weather.

Most astronomers believe that the sun has completed our latest cycle and has begun Cycle Number 24. It's not clear exactly when the new cycle began. Solar forecasters in early 2006 predicted that Cycle 23 would end in late 2006 or early 2007, with a quick return to a very active or perhaps record solar maximum in 2010 or early 2011. But the sun didn't get the memo. The solar minimum for Cycle 23 dragged on. The slumbering sun was not roused through 2008. In fact, the quiet sun in 2008 set some impressive records. For example, there was a 50-year low in solar wind pressure and a 12-year low in solar irradiance, resulting in a 6 percent drop in ultraviolet light.
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SOHO Watching As The Sun Comes Back To Life
Wednesday, March 31st 2010, 6:35 AM EDT
Co2sceptic (Site Admin)
After the most profound lull in solar activity for nearly a century, the Sun is finally coming back to life. But will the solar activity return to previous levels? ESA’s venerable solar watchdog SOHO is there, watching and measuring, providing unique information about our nearest star.

It was the perfect Christmas present for solar physicists. In mid-December 2009, the largest group of sunspots to emerge for several years manifested itself on the solar surface. It occurred just as some solar physicists were beginning to wonder if large sunspots would ever return. “This last minimum was much deeper and longer than anybody predicted,” says Bernhard Fleck, ESA’s SOHO Project Scientist, “We were beginning to joke that we had entered another Maunder minimum.”

The Maunder minimum occurred between 1645 and 1715, when sunspots, the visible markers of solar activity, were largely absent from the Sun. The last two years have been the same, with the Sun presenting a spotless face for more than 70% of the time.

Astronomers are used to seeing the Sun sweep through a cycle of activity that lasts approximately 11 years. But until December last year, the Sun had seemed reluctant to start up again. In mid-January, an even larger sunspot group emerged and, most recently, several big, active areas have been crossing the face of the Sun. Yet it is premature to believe that the Sun is ramping up for another energetic cycle of activity.

Click source to read FULL report
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First Ever Whole Sun View .. Coming Soon from STEREO by Ken Kremer
Monday, January 31st 2011, 1:55 PM EST
Co2sceptic (Site Admin)
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On Super Bowl SUNday - Feb 6, 2011; the two NASA STEREO spacecraft will see the entire Sun ! Super Bowl SUNday will truly mark a milestone for solar observations. On February 6, the two STEREO spacecrafts will be 180 degrees apart and for the next 8 years the STEREO spacecrafts and SDO will be able to observe the entire 360 degrees of the Sun. Credit: NASA. Watch the cool STEREO Whole Sun Preview Video below. Plus Launch Video and more.

“For the first time in the history of humankind we will be able to see the front and the far side of the Sun … Simultaneously,” Madhulika Guhathakurta told Universe Today. Guhathakurta is the STEREO Program Scientist at NASA HQ.

Courtesy of NASA’s solar duo of STEREO spacecraft.

And the noteworthy event is timed to coincide just perfectly with ‘Super Bowl SUNday’ – Exactly one week from today on Feb. 6 during Super Bowl XLV !
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Sunspots and politics by Nonoy Oplas
Saturday, August 15th 2009, 9:32 AM EDT
Co2sceptic (Site Admin)
As of August 13, NASA’s has this tally in number of sunspot-less (i.e., zero sunspot) days:

Current Stretch: 34 days
2009 total: 176 days (78 percent)
Since 2004: 687 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days

Since 01 January 2009 up to August 13, 176 out of 225 days or 78 percent of all days have zero sunspot. This is very significant. In terms of percentage of days with not a single sunspot, this year is already in the top three since 1849. If current slumber of the sun will continue for the rest of the year, we should be hitting 80 to 85 percent of zero sunspot days.

Over the past 160 years, the top five years with highest sunspot-less days were:

1. 1913, 311 days, 85 percent
2. 1901, 284 days, 78 percent
3. 1878, 278 days, 76 percent
4. 2008, 266 days, 73 percent
5. 1912, 253 days, 69 percent
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Solar Cycle 25 peaking around 2022 could be one of the weakest in centuries
Monday, May 18th 2009, 10:12 AM EDT
Co2sceptic (Site Admin)
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David Hathaway's predictions for the next two solar cycles and, in pink, Mausumi Dikpati's prediction for cycle 24.

According to theory and observation, the speed of the belt foretells the intensity of sunspot activity ~20 years in the future. A slow belt means lower solar activity; a fast belt means stronger activity.
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