1. Welcome to Religious Forums, a friendly forum to discuss all religions in a friendly surrounding.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Our modern chat room. No add-ons or extensions required, just login and start chatting!
    • Access to private conversations with other members.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

Solar Storm Warning

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by michel, Mar 11, 2006.

  1. michel

    michel Administrator Emeritus
    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2004
    Messages:
    28,667
    Ratings:
    +2,656
    Solar Storm Warning

    03.10.2006

    http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2006/10mar_stormwarning.htm?list775983

    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]
    March 10, 2006: It's official: Solar minimum has arrived. Sunspots have all but vanished. Solar flares are nonexistent. The sun is utterly quiet.[/FONT]
    [/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Like the quiet before a storm.[/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]This week researchers announced that a storm is coming--the most intense solar maximum in fifty years. The prediction comes from a team led by Mausumi Dikpati of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). "The next sunspot cycle will be 30% to 50% stronger than the previous one," she says. If correct, the years ahead could produce a burst of solar activity second only to the historic Solar Max of 1958.[/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][​IMG]That was a solar maximum. The Space Age was just beginning: Sputnik was launched in Oct. 1957 and Explorer 1 (the first US satellite) in Jan. 1958. In 1958 you couldn't tell that a solar storm was underway by looking at the bars on your cell phone; cell phones didn't exist. Even so, people knew something big was happening when Northern Lights were sighted three times in Mexico. A similar maximum now would be noticed by its effect on cell phones, GPS, weather satellites and many other modern technologies. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Right: Intense auroras over Fairbanks, Alaska, in 1958. [More][/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Dikpati's prediction is unprecedented. In nearly-two centuries since the 11-year sunspot cycle was discovered, scientists have struggled to predict the size of future maxima—and failed. Solar maxima can be intense, as in 1958, or barely detectable, as in 1805, obeying no obvious pattern.[/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]The key to the mystery, Dikpati realized years ago, is a conveyor belt on the sun.[/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]We have something similar here on Earth—the Great Ocean Conveyor Belt, popularized in the sci-fi movie The Day After Tomorrow. It is a network of currents that carry water and heat from ocean to ocean--see the diagram below. In the movie, the Conveyor Belt stopped and threw the world's weather into chaos.[/FONT]
    [​IMG]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Above: Earth's "Great Ocean Conveyor Belt." [More][/FONT]​
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]The sun's conveyor belt is a current, not of water, but of electrically-conducting gas. It flows in a loop from the sun's equator to the poles and back again. Just as the Great Ocean Conveyor Belt controls weather on Earth, this solar conveyor belt controls weather on the sun. Specifically, it controls the sunspot cycle.[/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Solar physicist David Hathaway of the National Space Science & Technology Center (NSSTC) explains: "First, remember what sunspots are--tangled knots of magnetism generated by the sun's inner dynamo. A typical sunspot exists for just a few weeks. Then it decays, leaving behind a 'corpse' of weak magnetic fields."[/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Enter the conveyor belt.[/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][​IMG]"The top of the conveyor belt skims the surface of the sun, sweeping up the magnetic fields of old, dead sunspots. The 'corpses' are dragged down at the poles to a depth of 200,000 km where the sun's magnetic dynamo can amplify them. Once the corpses (magnetic knots) are reincarnated (amplified), they become buoyant and float back to the surface." Presto—new sunspots![/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Right: The sun's "great conveyor belt." [Larger image][/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]All this happens with massive slowness. "It takes about 40 years for the belt to complete one loop," says Hathaway. The speed varies "anywhere from a 50-year pace (slow) to a 30-year pace (fast)."[/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]When the belt is turning "fast," it means that lots of magnetic fields are being swept up, and that a future sunspot cycle is going to be intense. This is a basis for forecasting: "The belt was turning fast in 1986-1996," says Hathaway. "Old magnetic fields swept up then should re-appear as big sunspots in 2010-2011."[/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Like most experts in the field, Hathaway has confidence in the conveyor belt model and agrees with Dikpati that the next solar maximum should be a doozy. But he disagrees with one point. Dikpati's forecast puts Solar Max at 2012. Hathaway believes it will arrive sooner, in 2010 or 2011.[/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]"History shows that big sunspot cycles 'ramp up' faster than small ones," he says. "I expect to see the first sunspots of the next cycle appear in late 2006 or 2007—and Solar Max to be underway by 2010 or 2011."[/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Who's right? Time will tell. Either way, a storm is coming.[/FONT]
     
  2. Buttercup

    Buttercup Veteran Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2006
    Messages:
    20,960
    Ratings:
    +3,694
    Interesting. Let's just hope the ramped up spots don't fry us to a crisp.
     
  3. Scarlett Wampus

    Scarlett Wampus psychonaut

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2006
    Messages:
    2,207
    Ratings:
    +422
    What would be the effect on our technology of a large solar storm?
     
  4. dawny0826

    dawny0826 Mother Heathen

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2005
    Messages:
    14,088
    Ratings:
    +2,200
    Religion:
    Non-Denominational Christian
  5. Daniel Burbank

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2006
    Messages:
    119
    Ratings:
    +10
    I'm not exactly a scientist, so what does this mean for us? I've never heard of the Solar Max of 1958.
     
  6. gnomon

    gnomon Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2005
    Messages:
    9,313
    Ratings:
    +1,673
    Religion:
    atheist
    A bit from a nasa page:

    http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2003/23oct_superstorm.htm

    It seems that the amount of damage a massive coronal ejection such as the one in 1859, or perhaps an even larger storm, could translate to extensive damage to our networks and electrical framework. This would result in massive economic damage at the least. As far as "physical damage" to our atmosphere I am not sure. I'm trying to find more info and thought the above was a good intro into the effects of these coronal mass ejections.

    I think the Discovery channel is going to air a program this month or perhaps early April on the subject.
     
  7. finalfrogo

    finalfrogo Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2005
    Messages:
    1,290
    Ratings:
    +121
    It's somewhat frightening how things of astronmical proportions can affect us. It makes me worry. What if sometime in the future, there is an colassal incident that we can't prevent, and it wipes out the entire human race? We are truly at the mercy of the universe.
     
  8. Judgement Day

    Judgement Day Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2005
    Messages:
    420
    Ratings:
    +55
    Yes, and that day is called the end of times, my friend :).
     
  9. FFH

    FFH Veteran Member

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2005
    Messages:
    12,063
    Ratings:
    +374
    We are at the low end of the Solar Max, which may insure that we will have relatively stable weather patterns, and will probably have relatively few natural disasters, but as it peaks in 2012, I am sure there will be more crazy weather patterns, that will build up in intensity, as this date approaches, that will cause great end time natural disasters.
     
  10. Daniel Burbank

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2006
    Messages:
    119
    Ratings:
    +10
    What about all the hurricanes we had last year? Are they just going to get worse because of this thing?
     
Loading...