Earth ChangesS


A look at: Solar Wind Flow Pressure - Another Indication of Solar Downtrend?

solar wind
© unknown

I initially wrote this article using data only from David Archibald, but within a couple of minutes I was given some broader data from Leif Svalgaard, so I have rewritten this to include both resources in the interest of seeing the broader perspective. - Anthony

Last September WUWT covered NASA's press conference on the state of the sun. One of the announcements was this:
Sept. 23, 2008: In a briefing today at NASA headquarters, solar physicists announced that the solar wind is losing power.

"The average pressure of the solar wind has dropped more than 20% since the mid-1990s," says Dave McComas of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas. "This is the weakest it's been since we began monitoring solar wind almost 50 years ago."
From Wiki:
The solar wind is a stream of charged particles - a plasma - ejected from the upper atmosphere of the sun. It consists mostly of electrons and protons with energies of about 1 keV. The stream of particles varies in temperature and speed with the passage of time. These particles are able to escape the sun's gravity, in part because of the high temperature of the corona, but also because of high kinetic energy that particles gain through a process that is not well-understood.

The solar wind creates the Heliosphere, a vast bubble in the interstellar medium surrounding the solar system. Other phenomena include geomagnetic storms that can knock out power grids on Earth, the aurorae such as the Northern Lights, and the plasma tails of comets that always point away from the sun.


Antarctic Ice shelves stable over six years

Antarctic ice shelves are showing no sign of climate change, six years of unique research have shown.

Scientists from Western Australia's Curtin University of Technology are using acoustic sensors developed to support the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty to listen for the sound of icebergs breaking away from the giant ice sheets of the south pole.

"More than six years of observation has not revealed any significant climatic trends," CUT associate professor Alexander Gavrilov said yesterday.

Professor Gavrilov and PhD student Binghui Li are investigating whether it is possible to detect and monitor significant changes in the disintegration rate of the Antarctic ice shelf by monitoring the noise of ice breaking.

The pair are using two acoustic stations, one 150km off Cape Leeuwin, the southwest tip of WA, and another off the gigantic US military base on Diego Garcia in the Chagos Archipelago, in the Indian Ocean.


First Ever Ice Wine in Brazil

© Vinicola Perico

Our friend at the METSUL, Alexandre Aguiar reports that for the first time ever in Brazil icewine has been produced in this unusually cold June in Southern Brazil. This is a release on the Vinicolo Vineyard website. The following is a rough web based translation from Portuguese to English. The original Portuguese story is here.

With pleasure we inform that the Perico team yesterday registered in its vineyards, located in the farm Boy God, District of the Perico in Joaquin - Santa Catarina, a phenomenon of the nature, the most waited of this time: the ice wine. The temperatures had fallen well below-freezing and the thermometers had marked - 7.5 C. A dream if became reality: the harvest of the grapes congealed for this so wonderful act of the nature.

With this, the Vinicola Perico, will be first ever vineyard in Brazil to produce ICEWINE (Wine of the Ice), a natural licoroso wine, with raised amount of residual sugar of the proper grape.


Canada and USA agricultural weather issues and changes in our solar cycles

canada frost berries
© REUTERS / Mathieu BelangerFrosted organic cranberries are seen at Canneberges Quebec farm in St-Louis-de-Blandford October 17, 2007.

There's been some concern lately over climate and agriculture. In the last few days we've had headlines such as:

Crops under stress as temperatures fall (UK Telegraph)

Canadian Wheat Output May Fall on Dry, Cool Weather (Bloomberg)

Southeastern Missouri farmers try to overcome wet spring, soggy crops (TV4 Kansas City)

About the same time as these stories I got an email from David Archibald that talks about shifts in growing areas in the USA and the increased yields we've seen in the past quarter century. The concern of course is that those gains may vanish with the advent of a quiet solar cycle:

The attached article, dated 30th December 2008, was noted on Icecap in early January.

The prediction in it appears to have been borne out by subsequent events. Note this report of widespread frosts:

Canada frosts the most widespread in recent memory (Reuters, also source of photo above)

Your readers may benefit from having it reposted on WUWT. It is a good example of the practical application of Friis-Christensen and Lassen theory, and thus solar science to practical matters at ground level.


Better Earth

Grey-sky thinking: Nine extraordinary clouds

Clouds turn the sky into a big art gallery, complete with icy jellyfish and clouds that look like breaking waves. Two new books explore the varieties, and our gallery illustrates some of the most intriguing types

© The cloud collector's handbook by Gavin Pretor-Pinney

Fallstreak holes

These are crisp gaps in mid or high-level cloud layers, below which dangle trails of ice-crystals. To form a fallstreak hole, the cloud layer must consist of supercooled droplets - that is, water is in liquid form - even though temperatures at cloud level are well below 0° celsius. A fallstreak hole forms when one region of the cloud finally starts to freeze, starting a chain reaction.

All the moisture from the supercooled droplets in the area rushes to join the ice crystals, which quickly grow big enough to fall below. A form of "virga", the trail of ice crystals doesn't tend to reach the ground, but evaporates away before doing so.

Bizarro Earth

Australia Wheat Will Be Subject To Drought If El Niño Develops
Australia wheat production
© USDA and Climate Prediction Center

The Climate Prediction Center June 4th issued an El Niño alert indicating that "Conditions are favorable for a transition from ENSO-neutral to El Niño conditions during June − August 2009."

El Niño occurs when sea surface temperatures warm up in the central equatorial Pacific Ocean, but this is only one aspect of a broad scale shift in wind, air pressure and rainfall patterns that alters the climate in the tropics and sub-tropics. A classic symptom of El Niño is drought in Australia wheat states New South Wales and Victoria.

Below is a look at Australia wheat production in years when El Niño was in effect. Production was low in 11 out of 14 cases and seemed worst in the second year of a 2-season episode (1976-77 and 1986-87). Really severe damage occurred in recent El Niño cases 2002 and 2006 when less than half a normal wheat crop was gathered.

Bizarro Earth

Dryness Lowers Ukraine Winter Wheat Production Estimates

Ukraine precip
© StormX

Over the past 30 days, rainfall in western Ukraine has been at or above normal, in stark contrast to areas to the east, where precipitation has been less than 40% of average.

The wetness in the west has proved beneficial for recently planted spring wheat and soon-to-be harvested winter wheat. Spring wheat is primarily grown in the northern and western portion of the country, so moisture has been sufficient during the bulk of the planting season. However, winter wheat, which accounts for nearly 95% of Ukraine's total wheat production, is grown mainly in the southern half of the country as shown below.
Ukraine Winter Wheat 2009
© StormX


Meet the amphibian only its mother could love

A bug-eyed salamander that looks like ET and a see-through frog are among the weirder species that were discovered by conservation biologists in a far-flung corner of Ecuador.

Bizarro Earth

Argentina Wheat Production Prospects Continue Poor With Drought

Argentine 45 day precip
© StormX

The USDA kept a low production estimate for Argentina wheat on the June Supply-Demand report. Drought is preventing growers from planting, driving the crop area to the lowest level in 30 years. Production may be only 11 million metric tons and 30-35% below average. If poor wheat growing weather continues with drought, it would be the second year in a row of low production and exports.

Argentina's largest wheat province Buenos Aires has received 2.5-3.5 inches of rainfall in recent weeks, allowing planting to proceed but other wheat provinces are dry. Drought is severe in Cordoba and Santa Fe, and moderate in La Pampa.

Bizarro Earth

US: Arkansas Soybean Planting Slowed by Persistent Wetness

45 day precip Arkansas
© StromX

Since soybean planting began in Arkansas in mid-April, rainfall has been over 200% of normal in major growing areas in the state.

Accounting for 4% of US soybean production, Arkansas has just 55% of the crop planted, compared to the 5-year average of 82%.