Vol 4 January 2004       

sunspot photo
Sunspots Are at an All-Time High
And They May Be Affecting Our Climate
with Mitch Battros
by Billii Roberti

The Spirit of Ma'at's Earth-Changes correspondent, Mitch Battros, has been saying all along:

Sunspots => Solar Flares => Magnetic Field Shift =>
Shifting Ocean and Jet Stream Currents =>
Extreme Weather and Human Disruption

Until recently, no scientific agency has publicly agreed with Mitch. But now, Science@Nasa seems close to validating his viewpoint. And a Finnish investigative team is tentatively suggesting that the historically unprecedented sunspot activity we are seeing could in fact have affects upon the climate of the Earth.

Sunspots and Earth Weather

On December 3, 2003, Mitch Battros reports, "the quasi-official website Science@NASA posted an article, titled 'Cracks in Earth's Magnetic Shield,' which inches toward my position that solar activities affect the weather."

The NASA website reported a recently released study by Harald Frey, of the University of California at Berkeley. Based upon new observations from NASA's IMAGE spacecraft and from the joint NASA/European Space Agency Cluster satellites, the study states, "immense cracks sometimes develop in Earth's magnetosphere and remain open for hours. This allows the solar wind to gush through and power stormy space weather" (see Magnetic Cracks at NASA's website).

The "solar wind" is a stream of charged particles issuing from the sun. This wind can get gusty during violent solar events, such as solar flares and CME's (Coronal Mass Ejections). Normally, the magnetosphere deflects these particles back out into space or toward either pole, causing the spectacular display known as the aurora borealis.

This deflection protects our atmosphere and helps stabilize weather patterns. But Battros asserts that when allowed into the atmosphere, these particles become a driving force in shifting ocean and jet-stream currents, and thus greatly alter weather patterns during the subsequent 48 to 72 hours.

It is generally accepted that satellites, radio communication, and power systems are affected by such space storms, but that the sunspots have such a monumental affect upon the weather on planet Earth has not been admitted by mainstream scientists.

Tai Phan of UC Berkeley, co-author of the Frey paper, goes on to state: "The new knowledge that the cracks are open for long periods can be incorporated into our space weather forecasting computer models to more accurately predict how our space weather is influenced by violent events on the Sun."

Although the Space@NASA report did finally acknowledge a direct cause-and-effect relationship between solar activity and space weather, the relationship with earth weather is still being denied. "These cracks don't expose Earth's surface to the solar wind," the Space@NASA site declares. "Our atmosphere protects us, even when our magnetic field doesn't."

But these allegations are wholly unsupported. Despite NASA's reluctance to admit the connection, it is beginning to look as though, indeed,

Sunspots => Solar Flares => Magnetic Field Shift =>
Shifting Ocean and Jet Stream Currents =>
Extreme Weather and Human Disruption

Solar Activity Is Increasing

SuperflareMeanwhile, another team of geophysicists, Ilya Usoskin and colleagues at the University of Oulu, Finland, and the Max-Planck Institute for Aeronomy in Germany, have calculated that the Sun is more magnetically active now than it has been for over a thousand years.

They say their study methodology, which relies on a radioactive dating technique, is the first direct quantitative reconstruction of solar activity based on physical, rather than statistical, models (I. G. Usoskin et al. 2003 Phys. Rev. Lett., 91 211101, available online at About Physics).

Sunspots are produced by magnetic activity inside the Sun. The more active the Sun is, the more spots are produced. Observations of sunspots began in 1610 A.D. — soon after the telescope was invented — and no directly obtained data exists from before this time.

Now, however, Usoskin and coworkers have used the concentration of beryllium-10 (Be-10) in polar ice as a proxy for historic levels of solar activity. Be-10 is produced when cosmic rays interact with particles in the Earth's atmosphere. The radioisotope then falls to the ground, where it is stored in layers of ice. Since the Sun's magnetic field usually deflects cosmic rays away from the Earth, a stronger field would lead to less Be-10 being produced, and vice versa.

Using modeling techniques, the Finnish team was able to extrapolate data on solar activity back to 850 AD. Using this technique, the researchers found that there has been a sharp increase in the number of sunspots since the beginning of the 20th century. They calculated that the average number was about 30 per year between 850 and 1900. Between 1900 and 1944, the rate increased to 60 per year. And today it is at its highest value ever, at 76 per year.

Mitch Battros, however, based upon his close tracking of recent solar activity, speculates that the number of sunspots today is closer to 176 per year.

Whether it's 76 or 176, the figure seems alarming. "We need to understand this unprecedented level of activity," Usoskin told PhysicsWeb. "Is it a rare event that happens once a millennium, which means that the Sun will return to normal? Or is it a new, dynamic state that will keep solar activity levels high?"

Unlike NASA, the Finnish-German team speculates that increased solar activity may be having an effect on the Earth's climate. But they allow that more work is needed to clarify this point.

Science@NASA is sponsored by the science directorate at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. Its mission is "to help the public understand how exciting NASA research is, and to help NASA scientists fulfill their outreach responsibilities."

Ron Koczor, a researcher at Marshall, is listed as the NASA Official to contact for information on the Science@NASA website. His email is Ronald.J.Koczor@nasa.gov

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