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Solar Activity

Solar activity is the single largest currently known cyclical forcing mechanism on climate and weather. However in all of the current Climate and Weather models used for mainstream prediction,  only Total Solar Irradiance (TSI) is used which is a measure of the solar power over all wavelengths per unit area incident on the Earth’s upper atmosphere. It is measured perpendicular to the incoming sunlight. The solar constant is a conventional measure of mean TSI at a distance of one astronomical unit (AU).

Currently all climate and weather models ignore the particle forcing energy from the sun, which we measure and monitor for many purposes as extreme particle events associated with Coronal Hole streams, Solar Flares and CME’s all can impact our technological life. 

So rarely is there any linking shown between solar activity and there forcing upon climate and weather events on earth by the conventional media or by scientific journals.  Yet anecdotally there are strong identified correlations between events on the sun and in space to climate and weather events on earth. This site will present raw data for discussion and eventually my data model that shows the linkages will be published here.

The Sun and our understanding of it

The following are not all, but some of the key terms used across this website which will assist understanding: Please see reference on each page for links to original data or papers.

Solar Cycle – The Sun’s magnetic field goes through a cycle, called the solar cycle. The entire cycle takes on average 22 years with every 11 years or so, the Sun’s magnetic field completely flips. This means that the Sun’s north and south poles switch places. Then it takes about another 11 years for the Sun’s north and south poles to flip back again. The solar cycle affects activity on the surface of the Sun, such as sunspots which are caused by the Sun’s magnetic fields. As the magnetic fields change, so does the amount of activity on the Sun’s surface.

Below is a picture from NASA showing the change in activity over the last 10 years – This will be updated yearly.

The Solar cycle is monitored through multiple agencies around the world, but SILSO (Sunspot Index and Long-term Solar Observations) group in Belgium are regarded as the official group for collecting and distributing official Sunspot data world wide. Many countries do not accept this and operated their own as well as republishing SILSO data in with their own data prediction or model.

http://www.sws.bom.gov.au/Images/Solar/Solar%20Conditions/Monthly%20Sunspot%20Numbers/sunspot.png

Sunspots – Are temporary phenomena on the Sun’s photosphere that appear as spots darker than the surrounding areas. They are regions of reduced surface temperature caused by concentrations of magnetic field flux that inhibit convection. Sunspots usually appear in pairs of opposite magnetic polarity, and can have varying levels of complexity.

Solar Flare – The magnetic field lines near sunspots often tangle, cross, and reorganize. This can cause a sudden explosion of energy called a solar flare. Solar flares release a lot of radiation into space. If a solar flare is very intense, the radiation it releases can interfere with our radio communications here on Earth.

CME – Coronal Mass Ejection, Solar flares are sometimes accompanied by a coronal mass ejection. CMEs are huge bubbles of radiation and particles from the Sun. They explode into space at very high speed when the Sun’s magnetic field lines suddenly reorganize. The video below shows multiple CME’s from August 2010.

Space Weather – Space weather is the Sun’s activity as it is always spewing gas and particles into space. This stream of particles is known as the solar wind. The gas and particles come from the Sun’s hot outer atmosphere, called the corona. These particles from the corona are charged with electricity. The solar wind carries these particles toward Earth at up to a million miles per hour!

Coronal Hole – are areas where the Sun’s corona is colder, hence darker, and has lower-density plasma than average because there is lower energy and gas levels. Coronal holes are part of the Sun’s corona and are constantly changing and reshaping because the corona is not uniform. The Sun contains magnetic fields that arch away from areas in the corona that are very thin due to the lower levels of energy and gas, which cause coronal holes to appear when they do not fall back. Thus, solar particles escape at a rate great enough to create a lower density and lower temperature in that area. In the SDO photograph in 211 angstroms below you can see the dark patches in the photosphere, these are coronal holes.

Areas (A) are looped and Contained, Area (B) is open releasing solar wind stream

Solar Particle Event – A solar particle event or solar proton event, or prompt proton event, occurs when particles emitted by the Sun become accelerated either close to the Sun during a flare or in interplanetary space by coronal mass ejection shocks.

By NASA – http://trace.lmsal.com/POD/images/arcade_9_nov_2000.gif,

Solar Prominence – A prominence is a large, bright, gaseous feature extending outward from the Sun’s surface, often in a loop shape. Prominences are anchored to the Sun’s surface in the photosphere, and extend outwards into the Sun’s corona. The picture below shows the scale that these can achieve; showing both Jupiter and the earth encompassed by a prominence.

By NASA Goddard Space Flight Center – Solar Dynamics Observatory, Public Domain

More to come – work in progress.