Articles & Reviews

Authored by RSF Research Staff

Is our solar system heating up?

The consequences of human activity on our environment has been proven and sadly can be observed on a daily basis. Even the Chinese government is taking action to face the ongoing problematic smog spread all across Chinese Cities. They recently decided drastic measures closing up to 40% of their factories [1]. One of the problems we are all facing is global warning. New data from NASA experts resulting from satellite photography shows that the Greenland ice sheets are melting two times faster than previously expected. However, in a recent paper published last September, scientists exposed new results showing a much lower impact of CO2 on climate change [2]. They reviewed their model and announced their previous estimation for the impact of CO2 was 50% overestimated meaning the emission budget is now 2 to 3x higher than announced making Paris agreement more feasible.

Of course releasing billions of tons of gases into the atmosphere will effect a whole host of systems of the biosphere, leading to increased acidification of water as well increasing the amount of gases in the atmosphere that will absorb solar radiation and result in increasing temperatures. Other factors affect global temperatures as well, including the Earth's position relative to the Sun, which changes over long periodic cycles---the Milankovitch cycles---as well as the activity of the sun itself.  As Nassim Haramein explained back in 2005 [3], as sunspot activity increases so do radiation levels:

Therefore, an increase in sunspot activity would result in an increase in radiation in the whole of our solar system. Since the Sun represents 99.8% of the mass of our solar system even a few degrees change in our sun radio heat would have large consequences in the overall temperature of the earth and its weather patterns. The increase in solar flares strength that has been observed in the past few years such as the record-breaking solar flare of November 2003, projects highly ionized plasma particles into our solar system which eventually get caught in the magnetic lines of our earth and are transported to the poles geomagnetic vortices. They are by heating up the atmosphere and the ice caps resulting in the accelerated meltdown of the ice sheets.

What’s happening in the solar system?

Having studied Earth's climate for many decades now, it is known that the direct consequences of a rapid climate change can be: a global temperature rise, the shrinking ice sheets, the glacial retreat, the increase of extreme events, more heat waves and stronger hurricanes. And many these changes can be observed on planets of our Solar system. Thanks to the probes sent during the last decades [4], we begin to have a good vision of what is the weather on our neighborood planets. And the weather on these planets is pretty interesting, except for Mercury. With essentially no atmosphere, Mercury's weather changes are displayed not as storms in the atmosphere, but only as wide swings in surface temperature.

During the last years, astronomers have observed some important changes in terms of super storm activities, strong winds and even ice melting. On Neptune, strange storms as wide as Earth have been observed in August 2017, raising questions about how they formed and persisted [5]. On Uranus, the so-called " boring planet", is not calm at all. Underneath its placid blue face, there's some really wild weather going on. In 2014, astronomers from Berkeley reported a record-breaking storm activity [6]. Other super storm events were spotted on Saturn in 2011. One of them was so powerful that it stretched around the entire planet [7]. On Jupiter, some important changes have been seen in the great red spot. The Cassini-Huygens launched in 1997 passed Jupiter and gathered data from it in 2000 and 2001. These measurements revealed to us that Jupiter emits 67% more radiation than it receives from the Sun. This internal heat source is thought to drive much of Jupiter's weather, including, presumably, the Great Red Spot. However, after years of relative stability, the Great Red Spot is now changing rapidly. The Hubble observations showed in 2012 a new wave structure in a region of cyclones and anticyclones. It's clear that Jupiter's atmosphere is moving, and the Great Red Spot is evolving [8]. Also, observations are showing ice caps are melting, but not only on Earth, on Mars too [9]. In 2005 data from NASA's Mars Global Surveyor and Odyssey missions revealed that the carbon dioxide "ice caps" near Mars's south pole was diminishing for three summers in a row. And finally, on Venus, in June 2013, the most detailed record of cloud motion chronicled by ESA’s Venus Express has revealed that the planet’s winds have steadily been getting faster over the last six years [10].

All these evidences of global warming in our Solar system during this last decade are really challenging to explain. Obviously, this is not linked to any human activity, on the contrary different studies are showing a link with solar activity and also with cosmic rays.

Weather effects of Solar activity and cosmic rays

Many studies are being conducted to identify any relationship between climate and solar activity and cosmic rays. Solar activity is driven by the sun magnetic field. It manifests in many forms such as solar flares, coronal mass ejections, high-speed solar wind, and solar energetic particles. The observed fluctuations are on time scales ranging from a fraction of a second to billions of years. Regarding cosmic rays, they are atom fragments raining down on the Earth some of the Sun and most coming from outside of the solar system. However, the origins of the highest energy cosmic rays remain unknown and a topic of much research.

Recent research showed a link between high-speed solar wind streams and explosive extratropical cyclones [11]. Scientist has noted that explosive extratropical cyclones tend to occur after arrivals of high-speed solar wind streams. Moreover, they showed that auroral gravity waves may play a role in the release of instabilities leading to storms. Since 2008, many studies pointed the influence of solar wind on extratropical cyclones and a link mediated by auroral atmospheric gravity waves [12]. And the modulation of solar wind was correlated with global tropical cyclone activity [13]. This year, scientists also demonstrated the influence of the geomagnetic field on the evolution of extratropical cyclones [14]. And even more surprisingly, cosmic rays seem to be related to the long-term global temperature variations [15]. A Russian team showed that a large proportion of climate variations can be explained by the mechanism of action of solar irradiance and cosmic rays. However, until few years ago it was unclear how cosmic rays could have such an effect on our Earth's climate.

In fact, usually we are rarely impacted by cosmic rays thanks to the deflection of the geomagnetic field of the Earth. But, when cosmic rays pass through the barrier, these high energies particles coming mostly from outside our solar system reach earth creating the Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis. However, it seems Earth is receiving a lot of more energy coming from space due to another mechanism called magnetic reconnection. This phenomenon is the annihilation and rearrangement of magnetic fields in a plasma [16]. It frequently occurs when plasmas carrying oppositely directed field lines collide. In our case, it seems the magnetic reconnection is able to redirect a large part of the energy contain in a solar flare or a cosmic plasma directly to the planet pole (see animation bellow). This energy input could explain how occurs part of the energy transfer from cosmic rays and solar activity.

Will global warming will stop?

Many evidences are visible that not only on Earth but on all planets of our solar system, climate changes are happening in a very short period of time. These changes seem to be link to the solar activity. Raises in tempareture seem to be correlated with sunspots (see figures bellow). Studying solar activity and predicting it could give clues for the future weather on our planet and scientists are monitoring it carefully for years. Since a maximum in 2014, observations are showing an important decrease and astrophysicists are predicting a fall of its intensity about 60% for 2030s, to reach 'mini ice age' levels. This could be in contradiction with the global warming event we are facing right now, but it is not.

With the decrease of solar activity, the magnetic field of oursun is losing power too. This heliosphere shields us forming a gigantic bubble which surrounds and protects our solar system from harmful galactic cosmic rays, these high-energy particles that zip through the universe [17]. Thanks to Voyagers 1 leaving the Solar system, we now have a good vision of it and of its shielding effect. It appears to be an indispensable protection for our fast moving throughout the Universe [18]. But, with a weaker heliosphere Earth will begin to endure more and more the cosmic rays.

In 2017, numerous reports showed increased evidence of cosmic rays impacts as sun activity approaches minimum [19]. And to accentuate this phenomenon, the Earth magnetic field is also weakening. This is illustrated by the increase of the pole shift velocity during the last decade as it can be visualize in the animation below.

Earth is rapidly losing two of her natural magnetic shields, a protection against cosmic rays. But, in reality, Earth has been having three magnetic shield for a very long time, the third being the local Cloud.  In fact, our solar system has been voyaging through the very low density Local Interstellar Cloud, a region about 30 light-years across. This ionized Cloud by its composition was acting as a magnetic shield from all heavy ionized particles coming from the Universe. However, this Earth third protection is nearly gone. The Solar system is moving in a lower density region of the Cloud [20] and we already began to see the effect in terms of more and more  cosmic rays absorption. While it is very difficult to predict climate and temperature in the long range, we can assume that extreme meteorological events could become frequent in a near future.

References:

What’s happening in the solar system

Weather effects of Solar activity and cosmic rays

Will global warming will stop?

 

 

 

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