Archive for January 14, 2011

The Deadly Sun

January 14, 2011 Comments off

Often we think of the deadly nature with the sun as one of fire and heat but the opposite can be true as well. If the sun doesn’t produce enough heat we on earth can can freeze – there is massive evidence of this in our geological record. Also think of how cold the planets in our own solar system get the further away from the sun they are.

Whilst scientists in some fields in recent decades want to play down the effects of the sun on the earth’s climate our climate history shows it plays a huge role. The sun typically has an 11 year cycle of sunspot activity which can extend and become quieter or contract and become more busy. History tells us when it is low in sunspots (typically a long cycle) then the world cools. At the moment Solar Cycle 24 is extending and losing it’s sunspots.

According to the Laymans Sunspot Count the sun today is again balnk of any sunspots. As we extend into solar cycle 24 we can get more of an idea of the anticipated peak of the cycle as it typically follows a curve when the sunspot number is smoothed (averaged). Looking at the graph of the sun from Layman’s Sunspot count website we see;

What we are witnessing in Solar Cycle 24 is a sunspot cycle that could peak as low as 30 – 35. It is currently tracking below Solar Cycle 5 which was part of a cold period on earth that correlated with the Dalton Minimum. We also find the sunspots are reducing in Read more…

Categories: Sun Tags: , , ,

Don’t Follow Wikileaks or Big Brother will be following you!

January 14, 2011 Comments off

The Justice Dept. in its ongoing battle to frighten people from sites that might reveal embarassing truths about the U.S. government, issued subpoenas seeking information on Wikileaks associates and people who regularly read their twitter feeds. The move resulted in several thousand Twitter followers dropping out as followers.

It is a bit late of course. The subpoenas would still cover their earlier activity. The Justice Dept. was hoping to obtain not just IP addresses, but mailing addresses and banking information from the people involved. However, Twitter is not likely to have any banking data.

Fortunately Twitter refused to comply with the requests and challenged the act and informed the targets as well. However, Wikileaks lawyer Mark Stephens believe that similar subpoenas may have been sent to other companies such as Skype, and Facebook. THis has yet to be confirmed.

Even though Wikileaks has not any charges against the site, it is being treated not only as a criminal but as some type of terrorist organisation. Certainly the organisation seems to be spreading terror within the U.S. government. The government is pressuring many large corporations to help silence the site and cut off funding and other support.

Brazil flood and mudslide deaths rise

January 14, 2011 Comments off

More than 420 people have now been killed by flooding and mudslides in south-eastern Brazil, officials say.

About 200 people have died in the town of Nova Friburgo, some 175 in Teresopolis and dozens more in Petropolis, media report. Thousands of people have been made homeless.

Rio de Janeiro Governor Sergio Cabral blamed local governments for allowing poor building and illegal occupations.

President Dilma Rousseff has toured damaged areas in Nova Friburgo.

She vowed that there would be “firm action” by the government.

Ms Rousseff was accompanied by Mr Cabral and other politicians and later left for a press conference in Rio, where she spoke of the “dramatic” scenes she had seen.

Expressing solidarity with the victims, she said: “The suffering of the people is very great.”

‘It was hell’

Heavy rain fell early on Thursday as rescuers resumed their search but l Read more…

Earth Is Twice as Dusty as in 19th Century, Research Shows

January 14, 2011 Comments off


If the house seems dustier than it used to be, it may not be a reflection on your housekeeping skills. The amount of dust in the Earth’s atmosphere has doubled over the last century, according to a new study; and the dramatic increase is influencing climate and ecology around the world.

The study, led by Natalie Mahowald, associate professor of earth and atmospheric sciences, used available data and computer modeling to estimate the amount of desert dust, or soil particles in the atmosphere, throughout the 20th century. It’s the first study to trace the fluctuation of a natural (not human-caused) aerosol around the globe over the course of a century.

Mahowald presented the research at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco Dec. 13.

Desert dust and climate influence each other directly and indirectly through a host of intertwined systems. Dust limits the amount of solar radiation that reaches the Earth, for example, a factor that could mask the warming effects of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide. It also can influence clouds and precipitation, leading to droughts; which, in turn, leads to desertification and more dust.

Ocean chemistry is also intricately involved. Dust is a major source of iron, which is vital for plankton and other organisms that draw carbon out of the atmosphere.

To measure fluctuations in desert dust over the century, the researchers gathered existing data from ice cores, lake sediment and coral, each of which contain information about past concentrations of desert dust in the region. They then linked each sample with its likely source region and calculated the rate of dust deposition over time. Applying components of a computer modeling system known as the Community Climate System Model, the researchers reconstructed the influence of desert dust on temperature, precipitation, ocean iron deposition and terrestrial carbon uptake over time.

Among their results, the researchers found that regional changes in temperature and precipitation caused a global reduction in terrestrial carbon uptake of 6 parts per million (ppm) over the 20th century. The model also showed that dust deposited in oceans increased carbon uptake from the atmosphere by 6 percent, or 4 ppm, over the same time period.

While the majority of research related to aerosol impacts on climate is focused on anthropogenic aerosols (those directly emitted by humans through combustion), Mahowald said, the study highlights the important role of natural aerosols as well.

“Now we finally have some information on how the desert dust is fluctuating. This has a really big impact for the understanding of climate sensitivity,” she said.

It also underscores the importance of gathering more data and refining the estimates. “Some of what we’re doing with this study is highlighting the best available data. We really need to look at this more carefully. And we really need more paleodata records,” she said.

Meanwhile, the study is also notable for the variety of fields represented by its contributors, she said, which ranged from marine geochemistry to computational modeling. “It was a fun study to do because it was so interdisciplinary. We’re pushing people to look at climate impacts in a more integrative fashion.”

Categories: Earth Tags: , , , , ,