The Big Red Bear is Waking up and It Will Affect Us All

NASA Science

Coronal Mass Ejection

Coronal Mass Ejection

Earth and space are about to come into contact in a way that’s new to human history. To make preparations, authorities in Washington DC are holding a meeting: The Space Weather Enterprise Forum at the National Press Club on June 8th.

Richard Fisher, head of NASA’s Heliophysics Division, explains what it’s all about:

“The sun is waking up from a deep slumber, and in the next few years we expect to see much higher levels of solar activity. At the same time, our technological society has developed an unprecedented sensitivity to solar storms. The intersection of these two issues is what we’re getting together to discuss.”

The National Academy of Sciences framed the problem two years ago in a landmark report entitled “Severe Space Weather Events—Societal and Economic Impacts.” It noted how people of the 21st-century rely on high-tech systems for the basics of daily life. Smart power grids, GPS navigation, air travel, financial services and emergency radio communications can all be knocked out by intense solar activity. A century-class solar storm, the Academy warned, could cause twenty times more economic damage than Hurricane Katrina.

Much of the damage can be mitigated if managers know a storm is coming. Putting satellites in ‘safe mode’ and disconnecting transformers can protect these assets from damaging electrical surges. Preventative action, however, requires accurate forecasting—a job that has been assigned to NOAA.

“Space weather forecasting is still in its infancy, but we’re making rapid progress,” says Thomas Bogdan, director of NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado.

Bogdan sees the collaboration between NASA and NOAA as key. “NASA’s fleet of heliophysics research spacecraft provides us with up-to-the-minute information about what’s happening on the sun. They are an important complement to our own GOES and POES satellites, which focus more on the near-Earth environment.”

Among dozens of NASA spacecraft, he notes three of special significance: STEREO, SDO and ACE.

STEREO (Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory) is a pair of spacecraft stationed on opposite sides of the sun with a combined view of 90% of the stellar surface. In the past, active sunspots could hide out on the sun’s farside, invisible from Earth, and then suddenly emerge over the limb spitting flares and CMEs. STEREO makes such surprise attacks impossible.

SDO (the Solar Dynamics Observatory) is the newest addition to NASA’s fleet. Just launched in February, it is able to photograph solar active regions with unprecedented spectral, temporal and spatial resolution. Researchers can now study eruptions in exquisite detail, raising hopes that they will learn how flares work and how to predict them. SDO also monitors the sun’s extreme UV output, which controls the response of Earth’s atmosphere to solar variability.

Bogdan’s favorite NASA satellite, however, is an old one: the Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) launched in 1997. “Where would we be without it?” he wonders. ACE is a solar wind monitor. It sits upstream between the sun and Earth, detecting solar wind gusts, billion-ton CMEs, and radiation storms as much as 30 minutes before they hit our planet.

“ACE is our best early warning system,” says Bogdan. “It allows us to notify utility and satellite operators when a storm is about to hit.”

NASA spacecraft were not originally intended for operational forecasting—”but it turns out that our data have practical economic and civil uses,” notes Fisher. “This is a good example of space science supporting modern society.”

2010 marks the 4th year in a row that policymakers, researchers, legislators and reporters have gathered in Washington DC to share ideas about space weather. This year, forum organizers plan to sharpen the focus on critical infrastructure protection. The ultimate goal is to improve the nation’s ability to prepare, mitigate, and respond to potentially devastating space weather events.

“I believe we’re on the threshold of a new era in which space weather can be as influential in our daily lives as ordinary terrestrial weather.” Fisher concludes. “We take this very seriously indeed.”

For more information about the meeting, please visit the Space Weather Enterprise Forum home page at  http://www.nswp.gov/swef/swef_2010.html

Volcanic Ash Threat in Europe was All a ‘Mistake’, Authorities Say

Once again computer models did the trick for scientists

By Luis R. Miranda
The Real Agenda
April 21, 2010

air travel cancellations

It was not a volcano or its ash what caused major disruptions in air travel for the past several days, but a bunch of flawed computer models scientists used to forecast how the volcanic eruption would affect air travel throughout the European continent. As reported yesterday, other reasons are being looked at to explain why flights were suspended if the famous ash cloud did not reach Europe in the way it was originally described. Today, authorities are blaming defective computer models and not the volcanic eruption.

According to Matthias Ruete, director general for mobility and transport in Europe, the computer models used to make a decision on whether or not the air space would remain open, were flawed due to the fact scientists used incomplete science and limited data. The closure of air space, which caused great disruption in passenger and cargo transport from and to the old continent, stranding thousands of people and amounting to loses of hundreds of millions of dollars per day, does not come as a surprise. Scientists who claim that man causes global warming, also based their calculations and forecasts on flawed, incomplete and dubious data. This was discovered when e-mails and documents from the University of East Anglia were let out on the web.

“It is a black box in certain areas,” Matthias Ruete, said, asserting that the assumptions used in the models were not based on scientific evidence. Apparently, authorities in Europe were not sure about certain issues and questions involving the amount of ash at specific heights and places, how hazardous it would be and the rate at which the ash would fall from the sky. “It’s one of the elements where, as far as I know, we’re not quite clear about it,” he revealed.

As reported yesterday, some airlines even conducted test flights in order to determine whether their planes would be able to withstand the effects of the now confirmed fictitious ash. Companies like KLM, Air France and Lufthansa sent planes up and all indications pointed out that the risk was minimum or none.

It appears that scientists and authorities decided to close air space, and in the process cause grave stress to an economic system that is already shaky. The current levels of outstanding debt many of the companies that revolve around commerce and air travel as well as that of European and other governments provides very little margin of error for this kind of mistakes, however those who oversee air safety did not take that into account when making up their minds about what to do with transatlantic flights.

This computer model errors along with poor judgment still do not explain why if there was any kind of threat to air travel, military planes from European countries and the U.S. maintained and still continue to execute exercises that are part of the Brilliant Ardent 10 program. The admittance of wrongdoing does not explain if and how the Coronal Mass Ejections (CME’s) may have influenced on weather patterns, plate tectonics or volcanic activity. We tried to obtain information from Dr. David H. Hathaway, a NASA scientist and expert in CME, but he has not returned our e-mail. “If you take the situation across the Atlantic, there the advice would probably be: don’t fly over the volcano. Otherwise, it is up to you to take the precautions necessary,” Mr Ruete said. Many people are now calling for the adoption of standards used in the United States, where it is up to the airlines to decide whether it is safe to fly or not. European standards establish that member states have the prerogative to make those decisions, but all decisions made for the past week have been made by computer models, it seems.  Unfortunately, computers cannot be fired.

Coronal Mass Ejection is the Issue in Europe, not Volcanic Ash

By Luis R. Miranda
The Real Agenda
April 19, 2010

It is of everyone’s knowledge the kind of disruptions the volcanic eruption in Iceland caused to international travel in Europe. Due to this eruption and the huge amount of ash reported to be coming out of the volcano, it is understandable that air space is closed for the safety of the people who intended to make their ways around the continent and across the Atlantic Ocean. However, some information has come to my attention that I think is important to share with the public, since the authorities are not doing it.

Although, as I mentioned before, air travel is banned for the moment, there are some facts that do not follow the same trend. For example, why is the Keflavic International Airport in Iceland still open? Is the real disruptor of air transport really volcanic ash or a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME)? Is European airspace being kept clear to prevent people seeing something significant out of aircraft windows? Is European airspace being kept clear for military defensive purposes or for military offensive purposes? Whose military?

Volcanic eruptions are nothing rare nowadays. Volcanic activity is seen daily around the world, and there are volcanoes erupting daily around the globe. So why is this particular eruption so special? Maybe it’s not. There is another event happening at the same time this eruption is taking place. A large NATO Live Exercise originated out of Germany on April 12 and running up until April 22 is also taking place in European airspace. The exercise includes participants like the U.S. Air Force stationed in Germany and other places in the old continent.

Reports from Germany, Austria and other locations in Europe reported clear and blue skies up to April 17, as it can be seen in this image dated April 17, 2010. Enter the following report from rumormillnews.com.

“In Germany we experienced the most beautiful day of the year. No clouds, clear sky, not the slightest sign of dust or ash in the  atmosphere. To confirm my own observation I checked the www.sat.dundee.ac.uk/ 1200 UTC satellite picture with the same result: A large high pressure area stretching from England and France via the North Sea, Germany, the Alps all the way across Poland to the Russian border with winds from the east in central Germany. You can see the Sat Pic via the link below.”

This information contradicts the ash cloud forecast to engulf all European airspace. Air space over Ramstein Airforce Base in Germany has also remained opened throughout the emergency. Ramstein is the main location from which operations in the Middle East are coordinated. There have not been any interruptions in the operations conducted at Ramstein, as military airplanes seem to be able to cope with volcanic ash. German Airline Lufthansa conducted several flights in order to test the possibility of restarting normal transportation activity. The result of those tests were no damage or any other problems for the aircraft.

“In addition to air assets, tactical employment of Theater Missile Defense and Ground Based Air Defense assets will be extensively exercised.” Missile defense is a system, weapon, or technology involved in the detection, tracking, interception and destruction of attacking missiles. Originally conceived as a defense against nuclear-armed Intercontinental ballistic missiles, its application has broadened to include shorter-ranged non-nuclear tactical and theater missiles”, continues the report.

May these military exercises be related to a Coronal Mass Ejections? Well, one has to say it is just coincidental that three significant events occurred at the same time. The volcanic eruption, the military exercise and the coronal mass ejections. See Coronal Mass Ejection from April 13, 2010. According to the Solar Influences Data Center, significant solar activity is expected to occur between 2010 and 2012 and some of it was expected to happen beginning April 14. Find the report here.

“A Coronal Mass Ejection or CME linked to the eruption of a polar crown filament was detected on April 13 by LASCO and other coronagraphs. It is partially halo, with a main propagation direction to the North of the ecliptic plane. There is a risk that the southern flank of the CME crosses the Earth, triggering enhanced geomagnetic activity, not before late April 16 or more likely on April 17.”

Although air travel is supposed to be interrupted for several more days, reports issued as late as Sunday expressed the possibility that some flight activity would resume on Monday April 17. Is this also a coincidence? The solar activity was supposed to end on April 17, was it not? Also, note that although the volcanic eruption is real and the ash is real too, no image shown anywhere has confirmed the massive cloud of ash all over Europe as it has been reported by the main stream media. Vasts areas of the continent have remained clear throughout the emergency. So why close most European Air Space? Please stay tuned for more details.

Sources:

NASA. Coronal Mass Ejections
http://solarscience.msfc.nasa.gov/CMEs.shtml

Operation Brilliant Ardent 10
https://realagenda.wordpress.com/2010/04/19/massive-military-exercise-in-europe-as-volcano-erupts/

Europe Satellite Image April 17, 2010

Dundee Satellite Receiving Station
http://www.sat.dundee.ac.uk/

Ash Cloud Forecast over Europe
http://www.eurad.uni-koeln.de/index.html

Coronal Mass Ejection April 13, 2010
http://www.spaceweather3.com/images2010/13apr10/cme_c3_anim360.gif?PHPSESSID=ifbmesp6a7oc507tt90elfoc45

Solar Influences Data Analysis Center
http://www.sidc.be/products/presto/