Earthly cloud similarities seen in solar CMEs

New SDO images show CMEs exploding from the Sun ripples like clouds do on Earth. It looks a lot like this photo, showing the well known Kelvin-Helmholtz instability.File:Wavecloudsduval.jpg

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Clean image of the new CME  studied by Dr Claire Foullon  - images provided by the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) experiment on NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO)From the University of Warwick:

Physicists, led by a researcher at the University of Warwick, studying new images of clouds of material exploding from the Sun have spotted instabilities forming in that exploding cloud that are similar to those seen in clouds in Earth’s atmosphere.

These  results could greatly assist physicists trying to understand and predict our Solar System’s “weather”.

The researchers, led by of the Centre for Fusion Space and Astrophysics, at the University of Warwick’s Department of Physics, made their discovery when examining new images  of clouds of material exploding from the Sun known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs). These images were  provided by the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) experiment on NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). SDO was been launched last year and provides unprecedented views of the Sun in multiple temperatures.

The new SDO/AIA observations provided images of coronal mass ejections in the extreme ultra violet at a temperature that was not possible to observe in previous instruments – 11 million Kelvin. On examining these images the Warwick researchers spotted a familiar pattern of instability on one flank of an exploding cloud of solar material that closely paralleled instabilities seen in Earth’s clouds and waves on the surfaces of seas.

Clean image of the new CME  studied by Dr Claire Foullon  - images provided by the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) experiment on NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO)

When observed these Kelvin-Helmholtz (or KH) instabilities appear to roll up into growing whirls at boundaries between things moving at different speeds, for instance the transition between air and water or cloud. The difference in speeds produces the boundary instabilities.

Similar conditions can occur when one looks at the magnetic environment of the path of these coronal mass ejections as they travel through the solar corona. The difference in speed and energies between the two creates the very similar KH instabilities that we can observe in clouds.

While KH instabilities have been predicted or inferred from observations as happening within the solar system’s weather this is the very first time they have been directly observed in the corona. What makes this observation even more interesting is that the instabilities appear to form and build on one flank of the CME. This may explain why CMEs appear to bend and twist as these instabilities build, and cause drag, on one side of the cloud. This effect will be the next focus for the University of Warwick led research team.

University of Warwick researcher Dr Claire Foullon said:

“The fact that we now know that these KH instabilities in CMEs are so far only observable in the extreme ultra violet, at a temperature of 11 million Kelvin, will also help us in modelling CME behaviour”

“This new observation may give us a novel insight into why these CMEs appear to both rotate, and be deflected away from following a simple straight path from the surface of the Sun. If the instabilities form on just one flank they may increase drag one side of the CME causing it to move slower than the rest of the CME.”

Dr Foullon and her co-researchers have outlined their observations and detailed modelling of how they believe this phenomenon occurs in a paper just published in Astrophysical Journal Letters entitled Magnetic Kelvin-Helmholtz Instability at the Sun by Dr Claire Foullon, Erwin Verwichte, Valery M. Nakariakov Centre for Fusion, Space and Astrophysics, Department of Physics, University of Warwick; Katariina Nykyri, Department of Physical Sciences, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, Florida; and Charles J. Farrugia, Space Science Center and Department of Physics, University of New Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire.

The preprint is available at:

http://www.warwick.ac.uk/go/foullon/publications/foullon_preprint_apjl_2011.pdf

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John Day

KH can also be observed at the heliopause, where the solar wind meets the interstellar medium, at 48 A.U. (beyond the orbit of Pluto).
Here is a Java applet demonstrating the effect:
ftp://space.mit.edu/pub/plasma/models/KH_heliopause_slideshow.html

Very Interesting!

While at matters Solar, it appears that L&P effect may be fizzling out.
http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/L&P1.htm

Ralph

Maybe someone can explain what these clouds are I photographed at work. Sorry if this is OT.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/23654176@N03/5420910747/#/photos/23654176@N03/5420910747/lightbox/

John Marshall

Size does not alter the physics. Everything must obey the same rules.

Ian W

Ralph says:
February 6, 2011 at 4:51 am
Maybe someone can explain what these clouds are I photographed at work. Sorry if this is OT.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/23654176@N03/5420910747/#/photos/23654176@N03/5420910747/lightbox/

OT Response – These look like they could be non-persistent contrails from high performance military aircraft ‘exercising’ in a tail chase of some sort or practicing maximum rate turns. These exercises go on all the time usually unnoticed but sometimes they are in a patch of high humidity air and the repeated practices leave their patterns in contrails.

vukcevic says:
February 6, 2011 at 4:44 am
While at matters Solar, it appears that L&P effect may be fizzling out.
http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/L&P1.htm

Agree….L&P is bad science employed by those that might need a leg out.

Ralph

Ian W says:
OT Response – These look like they could be non-persistent contrails from high performance military aircraft ‘exercising’ in a tail chase of some sort or practicing maximum rate turns. These exercises go on all the time usually unnoticed but sometimes they are in a patch of high humidity air and the repeated practices leave their patterns in contrails.
In a closed loop with no exit trail? Yeah that makes sense..

Jeremy Poynton

“well known Kelvin-Helmholtz instability.”
In some circles…

Ian W

Ralph says:
February 6, 2011 at 6:55 am
In a closed loop with no exit trail? Yeah that makes sense..

I suggest you look at ‘high energy maneuvers’ sometime together with the thickness of the contrailing layer. All sorts of strange patterns can be generated.
/OT

Chris H

These look simply like the turbulence that occurs when two adjacent laminar streams of liquid or gas are moving at differing velocities

Daniel H

@Ralph
Ian is spot on. There is another flickr image of a similar cloud ring formation. The (presumably British) photographer contacted the Met Office for an explanation and received this response:

“the contrail is circular, which is most unusual, and all we can think of is that the aircraft either was doing some manoeuvres, which meant it had to stay in the same place – could be one of those RAF Nimrods that does surveillance of shipping, or it could be that an aircraft was being refuelled, and they remained in the same place, going round in a circle, whilst the refuelling was done.”

http://www.flickr.com/photos/debi2006/3382989068/

DAV

Just a guess, but the (Earth) clouds shown look like they are following the terrain – a mountain wave. I wonder what could be causing the ones in the AIA image. There doesn’t appear to be any terrain to follow.

Geoff Sharp says:
February 6, 2011 at 6:47 am
Agree….L&P is bad science employed by those that might need a leg out.
Disagree, L&P is a strong as ever, but may be a inconvenient truth for some.

Anoneumouse

@ John Marshall
February 6, 2011 at 5:12 am
Size does not alter the physics. Everything must obey the same rules.
Not true….the law of physics says the faster you go the heavier you get.
That means fat people have an unfair advantage when it comes to running the hundred yards

Andrew

[snip – “chemtrails” is a banned discussion item here – Anthony]

Carbone

What’s the controversy of L&P?

Bill Sticker

I’ve seen similar cloud formations over here in BC. Always wondered how and why they formed.

Carbone says:
February 6, 2011 at 9:24 am
What’s the controversy of L&P?
That sunspots are becoming warmer and thus harder to see and that therefore the sunspot number no longer is a good measure of solar activity:
http://www.leif.org/research/SHINE-2010-Microwave-Flux.pdf

Mike McMillan

Ralph says: Maybe someone can explain what these clouds are. . .
I’ll go with the contrails theory. The heaviest ring looks like two aircraft, one turning more tightly. In high performance turns, fighters can use afterburner to keep from losing airspeed, which might account for the lack of contrail when they come out of the turn and shut off the afterburner.

Looking back, was there any hint of L&P during solar cycle 23 ramp up?

vukcevic says:
“it appears that L&P effect may be fizzling out.”
Geoff Sharp says:
“Agree….L&P is bad science employed by those that might need a leg out.”
Leif Svalgaard says:
“Disagree, L&P is a strong as ever, but may be a inconvenient truth for some.”
Interesting, another scientific consensus… Anyway, I am planning to add a few plots on the Sun’s Magnetic Field to the WUWT Solar Page:
http://wattsupwiththat.com/reference-pages/solar-images-and-data-page/
I was thinking of adding this one;
http://wso.stanford.edu/gifs/Polar.gif
this one;
http://wso.stanford.edu/gifs/Tilts.gif
and this one;
http://www.leif.org/research/Livingston%20and%20Penn.png
but now after looking at this;
http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/L&P1.htm
and this;
http://www.landscheidt.info/images/livingston.png
I am not sure what to add on L&P. What plots on the Sun’s Magnetic Field and L&P do you recommend for inclusion on the WUWT Solar Page and why?

Ed Mertin says:
February 6, 2011 at 10:03 am
Looking back, was there any hint of L&P during solar cycle 23 ramp up?
Yes, but not for cycles prior to SC23:
http://www.leif.org/research/F107-SSN-divergence.png

Just The Facts says:
February 6, 2011 at 10:19 am
Anyway, I am planning to add a few plots on the Sun’s Magnetic Field to the WUWT Solar Page: http://wattsupwiththat.com/reference-pages/solar-images-and-data-page/
I was thinking of adding this one;
http://wso.stanford.edu/gifs/Polar.gif

That one is good
this one; http://wso.stanford.edu/gifs/Tilts.gif
Too complicated to interpret
and this one;
http://www.leif.org/research/Livingston%20and%20Penn.png

Is updated whenever Livingston sends me data. so is good
but now after looking at this;
http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/L&P1.htm

The ‘trend’ line has no basis and within uncertainties cannot be distinguished from a simple straight line.
and this;
http://www.landscheidt.info/images/livingston.png

Although it clearly shows the decline in the magnetic field, it is not correct to connect the points by a line as they represent measurements on unrelated sunspots.

Just The Facts says: February 6, 2011 at 10:19 am
I was thinking of adding this one;
http://wso.stanford.edu/gifs/Polar.gif

JTF
I maintain an up to date higher resolution Polar Field graph
http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/PF-latest.gif
on my web page: http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/LFC6.htm

vukcevic says:
February 6, 2011 at 10:36 am
I maintain an up to date higher resolution Polar Field graph
Considering the uncertainty in the hard to measure polar fields, higher resolution does not make much sense. Stick with the ‘official’ Wilcox graph.

Just The Facts says:
February 6, 2011 at 10:19 am
Anyway, I am planning to add a few plots on the Sun’s Magnetic Field to the WUWT Solar Page: http://wattsupwiththat.com/reference-pages/solar-images-and-data-page/
I was thinking of adding this one;
http://wso.stanford.edu/gifs/Polar.gif

Is good.
this one; http://wso.stanford.edu/gifs/Tilts.gif
To complicated to interpret and theoretically dubious.
and this one; http://www.leif.org/research/Livingston%20and%20Penn.png
Is updated whenever Livingston sends me data, so is good
but now after looking at this; http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/L&P1.htm
The ‘alternative’ trend line has no basis and the data is to uncertain to allow any more than a simple linear ‘trend’.
and this; http://www.landscheidt.info/images/livingston.png
although it clearly shows the decline of the magnetic field, it is incorrect to connect the data points with a line as the points from from unrelated spots.

We also have the North;
http://wso.stanford.edu/gifs/north.gif
and South;
http://wso.stanford.edu/gifs/south.gif
any value in including these?
I think I am going to add a new Magnetic Field section at the bottom of the WUWT Solar Page, does anyone have any anything else they think should be included in this section?

Mr. Alex

Leif Svalgaard says:
February 6, 2011 at 10:46 am
but now after looking at this; http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/L&P1.htm
The ‘alternative’ trend line has no basis and the data is to uncertain to allow any more than a simple linear ‘trend’.
Agree with this 100%, I recognized the “real” trend line as misleading as soon as I saw it. That downward dip reminds me of a misleading graphic similar to the one below which was used quite often after the 2008 La Nina as “proof” of an imminent drastic cooling which would continue.
http://static.safehaven.com/authors/hoye/13044_j.png

Leif Svalgaard says:
February 6, 2011 at 10:46 am
“and this; http://www.landscheidt.info/images/livingston.png
although it clearly shows the decline of the magnetic field, it is incorrect to connect the data points with a line as the points are from unrelated spots.

And the ‘moving average’ is meaningless as the data points are not equidistant in time. Talking about ‘bad science’…

Just The Facts says:
February 6, 2011 at 11:08 am
We also have the North; and South;
any value in including these?

No, as they are also shown in blue and red on the official Wilcox plot.

Leif Svalgaard says: February 6, 2011 at 10:46 am
“http://wso.stanford.edu/gifs/Tilts.gif
To complicated to interpret and theoretically dubious.”
The measure itself is theoretically dubious?

Mr. Alex says: February 6, 2011 at 11:17 am
Agree with this 100%, I recognized the “real” trend line as misleading as soon as I saw it. That downward dip reminds me of a misleading graphic similar to the one below which was used quite often after the 2008 La Nina as “proof” of an imminent drastic cooling which would continue.
Now Mr. Alex,
You are talking a bit of a nonsense, if you did consider the subject properly than you would have realised your misplaced confidence in the Catastrophic Solar Failure, as L&P strait line trend is projecting and Dr.S. is using it as a rather inadequate fig leaf.
Enjoy your world of make-believe, but I suggest do not put your shirt either on the Catastrophic Solar Failure or on the Catastrophic Anthropogenic Warming.

I’ve added Wilcox’s Polar Field Strength and Leif’s L&P chart to the WUWT Solar Page:
http://wattsupwiththat.com/reference-pages/solar-images-and-data-page/
Here are good summaries of all of the products available from the Wilcox Solar Observatory (WSO), Stanford University;
http://wso.stanford.edu/
and Leif’s website;
http://www.leif.org/research/
let me know if there is anything else that should be on the WUWT Solar Page.

JLawson

Re the circular clouds – those look like either the smoke trails generated by someone doing aerobatics or by skywriting.
Even skywriters need to practice their handwriting… 🙂

Just The Facts says:
February 6, 2011 at 12:21 pm
“http://wso.stanford.edu/gifs/Tilts.gif
Too complicated to interpret and theoretically dubious.”
The measure itself is theoretically dubious?

Yes, as it assumes the solar magnetic field is a dipole, which it is not.
http://www.leif.org/research/Model%20Polar-Sector%20Solar%20Magnetic%20Fields.pdf

jorgekafkazar

Leif Svalgaard says: (February 6, 2011 at 10:24 am )
Ed Mertin says: (February 6, 2011 at 10:03 am)
Looking back, was there any hint of L&P during solar cycle 23 ramp up?

Yes, but not for cycles prior to SC23:
http://www.leif.org/research/F107-SSN-divergence.png
————————————————————————-
We live in interesting times.
And thanks, Leif.

Just The Facts says:
February 6, 2011 at 12:21 pm
“http://wso.stanford.edu/gifs/Tilts.gif
Too complicated to interpret and theoretically dubious.”
The measure itself is theoretically dubious?
Yes, as it assumes the solar magnetic field is a dipole, which it is not.

And that the HCS is tilted which it is not:
http://www.leif.org/research/HCS-Movie-hi.gif
A more correct description would be the ‘latitudinal extent of the warps of the HCS caused by the solar sector structure’

There are other ways of measuring contrast, darkness and magnetic strength of solar regions. We can use the pixel darkness measured in the green band taken from the SOHO Continuum image that allows full coverage (when working) of all regions and this method is not subject to corruption via an increasing speck ratio.
When using this method it shows SC24 is behaving normally, we are having less spots and a greater frequency of spotless days but the magnetic strength is still rising towards solar max. This has been a reliable method up until last month, but SOHO now looks to be having some problems.
Graph HERE.

Geoff Sharp says:
February 6, 2011 at 3:12 pm
this method is not subject to corruption via an increasing speck ratio.
The L&P effect is precisely the increasing speck ratio…
we are having less spots and a greater frequency of spotless days but the magnetic strength is still rising towards solar max.
So, you think that the ratio of visible spots to magnetic field is decreasing. This is, again, just the L&P effect. There is, of course, a selection effect that you must take into account: as the smallest spots [with the weakest fields] are becoming invisible, you’ll tend to pick out progressively larger spots as time goes by. Livingston’s data stand on their own and are not biased by anything. The strongest argument for L&P is the discrepancy with the F10.7 measurements.

Geoff Sharp says:
February 6, 2011 at 3:12 pm
There are other ways of measuring contrast, darkness and magnetic strength of solar regions. We can use the pixel darkness measured in the green band taken from the SOHO Continuum image that allows full coverage
Yet over the interval covered by your graph you only show 62 points. During that time there were ~2000 spots of which L&P observed 280 [they only have telescope time and good weather about 1/7 of the time at best]. Even allowing for the same spot being counted several times as it marches across the disk you clearly are not covering nearly ALL spots. Perhaps you only count active regions [of which there were ~160] and only pick the biggest spot in each. Either way, a biased count and not full coverage.

Leif Svalgaard says:
February 6, 2011 at 3:52 pm
The L&P effect is precisely the increasing speck ratio…
It feels like groundhog day again. If L&P were just telling us that there are more specks then no one would argue, nor would anyone be interested in the so called “effect”. But unfortunately they are telling us that “sunspots will disappear by 2015” because of what they wrongly record appears to show a decline in magnetic strength. But their method is flawed because they measure every speck in a region, which because of the increased speck ratio has to drag the total value down by an incorrect ratio. We have seen this with unipolar groups where the large main spot is magnetically very strong but the small specks surround the main spot get the same weighting, thus dragging down the real figure. I measure the whole region and look at its overall darkness, the specks still affect the overall value but do not skew the figure as in L&P’s case.
Since June last year there has been a regime change. Unipolar groups are dominating. These groups are very strong and long lived magnetically and are recording similar values as groups measured at SC23 max. There is no reduction in magnetic gauss strength but this is being missed by the L&P method.
So there is no reduction in magnetic strength as we ramp up to the weak SSN solar max. What we are seeing is the normal process of grand minima, the magnetic strength follows the normal cycle but the total spot count is down. You are invoking some strange mysterious “effect” to cover for the fact that you did not pick this grand minimum.
The strongest argument for L&P is the discrepancy with the F10.7 measurements.

This is rubbish and only works when you manipulate the F10.7 data. Do we have to go over this ground again?
Yet over the interval covered by your graph you only show 62 points. During that time there were ~2000 spots of which L&P observed 280
As you know I measure the whole region. This is the correct way. Solanki was smart when doing his measurements before SC23 by only measuring the larger spots. L&P should have continued this method.

Geoff Sharp says:
February 6, 2011 at 5:51 pm
What we are seeing is the normal process of grand minima, the magnetic strength follows the normal cycle but the total spot count is down.
Apart from the fact that we have never observed a grand minimum magnetically, what you describe is just what the L&P effect is.
You are invoking some strange mysterious “effect” to cover for the fact that you did not pick this grand minimum.
I’m simply reporting measurements by the most experience solar observer in the wold.
“The strongest argument for L&P is the discrepancy with the F10.7 measurements.”
This is rubbish and only works when you manipulate the F10.7 data. Do we have to go over this ground again?

We can, but I doubt it will make any difference to you. The [very small 1%] adjustment of the F10.7 due to the relocation of the Canadian observatory has no discernible effect on the ratio. You can see the agreement between the two observatories here: http://www.leif.org/research/SHINE-2010-Microwave-Flux.pdf . The directors of both the Canadian and the Japanese observatory agree with this. In fact the discrepancy was first noted by Ken Tapping http://lasp.colorado.edu/sorce/news/2010ScienceMeeting/doc/Session6/6.03_Tapping_F10.7.pdf
As you know I measure the whole region.
then you missed two thirds of them.

Leif Svalgaard says:
February 6, 2011 at 7:00 pm
then you missed two thirds of them.
No, I have measured every SC24 region that has passed the Layman’s speck threshold. This is far more efficient than a 1/7th sample following incorrect principles, and uses the Solanki method.
How do you account for the upward trend in my graph? The data is pure and simple.

Bill

That cloud formation is clearly a warm front coming in. 😉

Geoff Sharp says:
February 6, 2011 at 7:30 pm
No, I have measured every SC24 region that has passed the Layman’s speck threshold.
of the 162 regions you picked the 62 largest ones. There is your bias.
The data is pure and simple.
The data is biased by the cherry picking.

AusieDan

Leif,
This looks to be an important issue.
I am not in a position to judge between yourself and Geoff Sharpe.
But obviouly at least one of you is clearly wrong.
I trust that you will pursue this issue to a firm conclusion.
There is much at stake, not just the physics but vital issues relating to the future of industrialisation.
If you are correct, then we will see (at least a temporary) end to sunspots by 2015.
If Geoff is correct, then it is likely that we are already on the downward path to a much cooler period ahead, if not a new ice age (little or not so little).

AusieDan says:
February 6, 2011 at 7:46 pm
This looks to be an important issue.
It is, and so should be approached in a scientifically correct way, uncolored by agenda and wishful thinking.
But obviouly at least one of you is clearly wrong.
I trust that you will pursue this issue to a firm conclusion.

The sun will decide in a few years time. So far, it is firmly on the side of L&P. That can change tomorrow.
If you are correct, then we will see (at least a temporary) end to sunspots by 2015.
The original figure ‘2015’ was based on fewer data points. The actual time is probably a few years further in the future.
If Geoff is correct, then it is likely that we are already on the downward path to a much cooler period ahead, if not a new ice age (little or not so little).
There was no grand minimum in the 1800s, and it is not proven that a grand minimum [if indeed we are heading into one: the Eddy Minimum] changes the Sun’s output enough to cause serious climate effects:
http://www.leif.org/research/Does%20The%20Sun%20Vary%20Enough.pdf

AusieDan

Lief,
One of the things about climatology that I find most unsatisfactory, is the constant movement of goals and even of definitions of how goals are to be scored.
By this I meant the constant movement of thermometers and of the introduction of new methods which are not consistant with, nor reconciled with, well established traditional methods.
Now I am not a stick in the mud, looking back with rose coloured glasses.
Real improvements are fine and are to be encouraged, but they must be run alongside the older methods for a considerable number of decades, before undue reliance can be placed upon the newer technologies.
That is simply because of the chaotic natue of climate and the very long length of its cycles, which must be fully understood before true conclusions can be drawn.
The traditional method of sunspot counting has a very long history and one that has a reasonable correlation with multi century changes in the climate.
Correlation does not indicate causation, but we are just entering a period when a major test can be carried out.
Why abandon this for the S&P method which has no similar pedigree and just at this critical juncture in the cycle?

AusieDan

Lief, one final point,
Forgive me if I have entered this debate and you have already covered this question.
If S&P are correct, what happens to sunspots after 2015?
Are they dead and gone forever?
Or will they just go into [hibernation] for a century or two?
I presume that you do not think that would impact the earthly weather in any fashion.
Am I correct with this last supposition?