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Sunspots, Global Warming, And An Ice Age

The Earth has been warming ever since the end of the Little Ice Age. But guess what: Researchers say mankind is to blame for that, too.

As we've noted, 2008 has been a year of records for cold and snowfall and may indeed be the coldest year of the 21st century thus far. In the U.S., the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration registered 63 local snowfall records and 115 lowest-ever temperatures for the month of October.

Bizarro Earth

US: Earthquake swarm in Quincy, California continues

For the 14th time since Dec. 26, the U.S. Geological Survey has recorded an earthquake in the vicinity of East Quincy.

The most recent quake, a 2.7-magnitude tremor, was recorded at 2:46 p.m. Tuesday, three mines northeast of the tiny community and about 7.5 miles below it.

The swarm of quakes began at 4:20 a.m. on the 26th with a 4.5-magnitude shaker that was distinctly felt in many areas of Butte County.

Fish

Deciphering Dolphin Language With Picture Words

cetacean words
© Sonic Age Ltd
Because the higher harmonics cannot be imaged, the cetacean words are thus simplified. The principle is similar to the way our ear-brain mechanism recognises the voice of a friend on the phone when only a single word is spoken, even though the bandwidth of the phone is very limited compared with face-to-face speech. The resulting "CymaGlyphs" (the name coined to describe visible sound patterns) could form the basis of a lexicon of cetacean language, each pattern representing a thought.
In an important breakthrough in deciphering dolphin language, researchers in Great Britain and the United States have imaged the first high definition imprints that dolphin sounds make in water.

The key to this technique is the CymaScope, a new instrument that reveals detailed structures within sounds, allowing their architecture to be studied pictorially. Using high definition audio recordings of dolphins, the research team, headed by English acoustics engineer, John Stuart Reid, and Florida-based dolphin researcher, Jack Kassewitz, has been able to image, for the first time, the imprint that a dolphin sound makes in water. The resulting "CymaGlyphs," as they have been named, are reproducible patterns that are expected to form the basis of a lexicon of dolphin language, each pattern representing a dolphin 'picture word.'

Igloo

Global Warming? Global Cooling Forecast Backed By Real Science

Abstracts of American Geophysical Union annual meeting, San Francisco Dec., 2008

Solar Influence on Recurring Global, Decadal, Climate Cycles Recorded by Glacial Fluctuations, Ice Cores, Sea Surface Temperatures, and Historic Measurements Over the Past Millennium

Easterbrook, Don J., Dept. of Geology, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA 98225
Global, cyclic, decadal, climate patterns can be traced over the past millennium in glacier fluctuations, oxygen isotope ratios in ice cores, sea surface temperatures, and historic observations. The recurring climate cycles clearly show that natural climatic warming and cooling have occurred many times, long before increases in anthropogenic atmospheric CO2 levels. The Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age are well known examples of such climate changes, but in addition, at least 23 periods of climatic warming and cooling have occurred in the past 500 years. Each period of warming or cooling lasted about 25-30 years (average 27 years). Two cycles of global warming and two of global cooling have occurred during the past century, and the global cooling that has occurred since 1998 is exactly in phase with the long term pattern. Global cooling occurred from 1880 to ~1915; global warming occurred from ~1915 to ~1945; global cooling occurred from ~1945-1977;, global warming occurred from 1977 to 1998; and global cooling has occurred since 1998. All of these global climate changes show exceptionally good correlation with solar variation since the Little Ice Age 400 years ago.

Comment: NOAA's Climate Prediction Center updated its ENSO data and prediction yesterday December 29, 2008. The La Nina conditions that were questionable a month ago have strengthened and current forecasts now call for La Nina to dominate well into 2009.
ENSO 2009
© Climate Prediction Center

The report can be found here.

In addition to the cooling influence of La Nina, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) is still strongly negative (in a cool phase) as can be seen here
Pacific Decadal Oscillation
© Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean
Pacific Decadal Oscillation
The North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) appears to be going negative and will soon send the UK and Europe into the deep freeze, possibly for much of the month of January.

And this recent article reveals the virtual absence of sunspots for the past year.

2008 sets record for days with no sunspots.
Sunspot graph
© IceCap
Sunspotless days 2008. Second fewest sunspots in over 100 years.



Chess

2008 Now Ranks #2 Since 1900 in Number of Sunspotless Days

With the number of sunspotless days reaching 16 so far this month, we have now exceeded 1912 as the 2nd quietest sun year since 1900. Only 1913 ranked higher with 311 days. With 12 more days this month as of this writing, we could reach as high as 266 days. Note that 2007 also ranked in the top 10.
Sunspot graph
© IceCap
Sunspotless days 2008. Second fewest sunspots in over 100 years.

This is the month by month comparisons of sunspotless days this solar minimum (red) through November and the last minimum in the mid 1990s (blue).
2008 Sunspotless days
© IceCap

Bizarro Earth

Magnitude 5.9 quake hits off Sumatra

A magnitude 5.9 quake struck off Indonesia's Sumatra island, the U.S. Geological Survey reported on Tuesday.

The shallow quake, only 6.2 miles (10 km) deep, was centered 85 miles (135 km) west of Bengkulu on Sumatra and hit at 2:49 a.m. on Wednesday (1949 GMT on Tuesday).

There was no immediate tsunami warning and the quake was unlikely to trigger one at that magnitude.

Phoenix

Russian scientist: Eruption of Koryak Volcano Might be Dangerous

Authorities of Kamchatka Territory and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky City must get ready for a big swell of eruption of the
Koryak Volcano
located at the 30 km distance from the city and its airport
, which is the major air gateway of Kamchatka.

Alexei Ozerov, the leading scientist of the Volcanology and Seismology Institute of Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Science has recently reported about this to RIA Novosti.

Bizarro Earth

Yellowstone Volcano Rises at Unprecedented Rate

Image
© R.L. Christiansen/USGS
The Yellowstone Caldera. The best estimate of the caldera rim is shown salmon. White arrows show interpreted magma migration paths. The red symbols mark volcanic centers that erupted after the caldera formed 640,000 years ago. The areas of known past or present thermal activity are colored yellow.
Yellowstone's ancient volcanic floor has been rising since mid-2004 because a blob of molten rock the size of Los Angeles infiltrated the system 6 miles beneath the surface, scientists say, but there is no risk of an eruption.

Yellowstone National Park is the site of North America's largest volcanic field, which is produced by a hotspot, or gigantic plume of hot, molten rock, that begins at least 400 miles (643 kilometers) beneath Earth's surface and rises to 30 miles (48 kilometers) underground, where it widens to about 300 miles across.

Occasionally, blobs of magma break away from the top of this plume and rise up to resupply the magma chamber beneath the park's "caldera," a 40-mile by 25-mile bowl-like depression and volcanic leftover whose walls you can see in the northwest part of the park.

These rising blobs of magma can sometimes push on the caldera floor, causing it to rise. Scientists monitoring the Yellowstone caldera think that's exactly what has caused the caldera floor to rise by almost 3 inches (7 centimeters) per year over the past three years - more than three times faster than it has more typically risen since observations began in 1923.

"Our best evidence is that the crustal magma chamber is filling with molten rock," said study leader Robert Smith, a seismologist at the University of Utah. "But we have no idea how long this process goes on before there either is an eruption or the inflow of molten rock stops and the caldera deflates again."

Bizarro Earth

Recent Earthquake List for Yellowstone National Park

Earthquake List for Map Yellowstone

Update time = Tue Dec 30 17:00:03 UTC 2008

Here are the earthquakes in the Yellowstone area, most recent at the top.

(Some early events may be obscured by later ones.)

MAG UTC DATE-TIME y/m/d h:m:s LAT deg LON deg DEPTH km LOCATION

MAP 2.4 2008/12/30 11:59:07 44.523 -110.401 0.3 58 km ( 36 mi) ESE of West Yellowstone, MT

MAP 1.0 2008/12/30 02:00:37 44.553 -110.341 2.2 61 km ( 38 mi) SSW of Cooke City-Silver Gate, MT

MAP 1.0 2008/12/30 01:51:00 44.517 -110.354 1.8 62 km ( 38 mi) ESE of West Yellowstone, MT

MAP 1.3 2008/12/30 01:47:56 44.527 -110.381 1.1 59 km ( 37 mi) ESE of West Yellowstone, MT

MAP 2.3 2008/12/30 01:47:26 44.532 -110.359 2.0 61 km ( 38 mi) ESE of West Yellowstone, MT

Bizarro Earth

Scientists eye unusual swarm of Yellowstone quakes

Cheyenne - Yellowstone National Park was jostled by a host of small earthquakes for a third straight day Monday, and scientists watched closely to see whether the more than 250 tremors were a sign of something bigger to come.

Swarms of small earthquakes happen frequently in Yellowstone, but it's very unusual for so many earthquakes to happen over several days, said Robert Smith, a professor of geophysics at the University of Utah.

"They're certainly not normal," Smith said. "We haven't had earthquakes in this energy or extent in many years."

Smith directs the Yellowstone Seismic Network, which operates seismic stations around the park. He said the quakes have ranged in strength from barely detectable to one of magnitude 3.8 that happened Saturday. A magnitude 4 quake is capable of producing moderate damage.