Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Sign Post - Solar Activity

What's Wrong with the sun?
By Stuart Clark
Are we headed for a new little ice age?

14 Jun 10 - (Excerpts) - "For the past two years, the sunspots have mostly been missing. Their absence, the most prolonged for nearly a hundred years, has taken even seasoned sun watchers by surprise. "This is solar behaviour we haven't seen in living memory," says David Hathaway, a physicist at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

"Sunspots and other clues indicate that the sun's magnetic activity is diminishing, and that the sun may even be shrinking. Together the results hint that something profound is happening inside the sun. The big question is what?

"(Sunspots) form where giant loops of magnetism, generated deep inside the sun, well up and burst through the surface, leading to a localised drop in temperature which we see as a dark patch. Any changes in sunspot numbers reflect changes inside the sun.

"The latest solar cycle was supposed to be the most active on record. The trouble was, no one told the sun.

"(During 2008) the sun was spot-free 73 per cent of the time, an extreme dip even for a solar minimum. Only the minimum of 1913 was more pronounced, with 85 per cent of that year clear.

"As 2009 arrived, solar physicists looked for some action. They didn't get it. Again, the number of sunspots has so far been well below expectations.

"The extent to which changes in the sun's activity can affect our climate is of paramount concern. It is also highly controversial. There are those who seek to prove that the solar variability is the major cause of climate change (myself included). ... Others are equally evangelical in their assertions that the sun plays only a minuscule role in climate change.

"Mike Lockwood at the University of Reading, UK ... has studied records covering data stretching back to 1650, and found that severe European winters are much more likely during periods of low solar activity (New Scientist, 17 April, p 6).

"Another example is the Maunder minimum, the period from 1645 to 1715 during which sunspots virtually disappeared and solar activity plummeted ... ushering in a period known as the Little Ice Age.

"In 2008, Judith Lean of the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington DC published a study showing that high solar activity has a disproportionate warming influence on northern Europe (Geophysical Research Letters, vol 35, p L18701).

"There is also evidence that the sun is inexorably losing its ability to produce sunspots (see "The sunspot forecast"). By 2015, they could be gone altogether, plunging us into a new Maunder minimum - and perhaps a new Little Ice Age.

"For decades, William Livingston at the National Solar Observatory in Tucson, Arizona, has been measuring the strength of the magnetic fields which puncture the sun's surface and cause the spots to develop. Last year, he and colleague Matt Penn pointed out that the average strength of sunspot magnetic fields has been sliding dramatically since 1995.

"If the trend continues, in just five years the field will have slipped below the threshold magnetic field needed for sunspots to form."

See entire article:


Thanks to Ty Weston, Bill Sellers, Benjamin Napier and Siroki for this link

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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sign Post - 1 More Earthquakes and now sink holes too!

Final death toll from China quake almost 3,000, state news agency saysXinhua agency says 2,698 people killed and 270 still missing after earthquake devastated Yushu county last month

guardian.co.uk, Monday 31 May 2010 records this article:

Nearly 3,000 people are dead or missing after a strong quake in north-west China last month, the official Xinhua agency said today as it gave a final death toll from the tremor.

The 14 April 2010 quake, which happened in the largely Tibetan Yushu county, killed 2,698 people, Xinhua quoted the vice-governor of Qinghai province, Zhang Guangrong, as saying. He said 270 people were still missing. The figures were a significant increase from previous tolls given by the government. Among the victims were 199 students and one Hong Kong resident, Zhang added. All but 11 of the dead had been identified, he said.
The magnitude 6.9 quake hit a remote, mountainous region and most of the dead were ethnic Tibetans in the devastated county seat, Gyegu.

Rescue efforts were complicated by poor transport links, difficult weather and freezing temperatures. China has allocated billions of yuan for reconstruction, with a three-year target for rebuilding homes, schools and roads, state media reported.

Watch the size and depth of the sinkhole
Tropical Storm Agatha blows a hole in Guatemala CityHundreds dead as torrential rain sweeps Central America. Sinkhole in Guatemala swallows three-storey building

Tropical Storm Agatha blows a hole in Guatemala CityHundreds dead as torrential rain sweeps Central America. Sinkhole in Guatemala swallows three-storey building

(4956)Tweet this (894)Peter Walker The Guardian, Tuesday 1 June 2010 Article history

A sinkhole that swallowed a three-storey building in Guatemala City has been blamed on a combination of Tropical Storm Agatha and poor drainage systems. Photograph: Luis Echeverria/AP

Tropical Storm Agatha swept across Central America yesterday, bringing torrential rain that killed more than 100 people and opened a 60m-deep sinkhole in Guatemala City which reportedly swallowed up a three-storey building.

The first named storm of the 2010 Pacific season dumped more than a metre of rain in parts of Guatemala, also hitting El Salvador and Honduras. At least 113 people were reported killed, with around 50 missing in Guatemala alone as rescue workers searched through the rubble.

The 30m-diameter sinkhole opened up in a northern district of Guatemala City, with residents blaming the rains and substandard drainage systems. Local reports said one man was killed when the building was swallowed. In 2007, three people died when a similar sinkhole appeared in the same area.  Guatemala was the worst affected country, with a confirmed death toll of 92, although that is likely to rise when rescuers reach remote villages. Almost 100,000 people have been evacuated from their homes. Nine people were confirmed killed in El Salvador and 12 in Honduras.

A sinkhole that swallowed a three-storey building in Guatemala City has been blamed on a combination of Tropical Storm Agatha and poor drainage systems. Photograph: Luis Echeverria/AP

Our most reasonable answer is that there is nothing strange happening.  In earlier years communication was a problem so incidents like these happened and the world could not get to know about it.  But today, with satellites, the internet, we come to know about these events in a short space of time.

Good answer! If that satifies your deepest quest as to why are these things happening - so be it.  If not then continue the search for the answers.