Curious: Electromagnetic waves linked to particle fallout in Earth's atmosphere, new study finds

HANOVER, N.H. – In a new study that sheds light on space weather’s impact on Earth, Dartmouth researchers and their colleagues show for the first time that plasma waves buffeting the planet’s radiation belts are responsible for scattering charged particles into the atmosphere.

solar-wind-thetaThe study is the most detailed analysis so far of the link between these waves and the fallout of electrons from the planet’s radiation belts. The belts are impacted by fluctuations in “space weather” caused by solar activity that can disrupt GPS satellites, communication systems, power grids and manned space exploration.

The results appear in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. A PDF is available on request.

The Dartmouth space physicists are part of a NASA-sponsored team that studies the Van Allen radiation belts, which are donut-shaped belts of charged particles held in place by the Earth’s magnetosphere, the magnetic field surrounding our planet. In a quest to better predict space weather, the Dartmouth researchers study the radiation belts from above and below in complementary approaches – through satellites (the twin NASA Van Allen Probes) high over the Earth and through dozens of instrument-laden balloons (BARREL, or Balloon Array for Radiation belt Relativistic Electron Losses) at lower altitudes to assess the particles that rain down.

The Van Allen Probes measure particle, electric and magnetic fields, or basically everything in the radiation belt environment, including the electrons, which descend following the Earth’s magnetic field lines that converge at the poles. This is why the balloons are launched from Antarctica, where some of the best observations can be made. As the falling electrons collide with the atmosphere, they produce X-rays and that is what the balloon instruments are actually recording.

“We are measuring those atmospheric losses and trying to understand how the particles are getting kicked into the atmosphere,” says co-author Robyn Millan, an associate professor in Dartmouth’s Department of Physics and Astronomy and the principal investigator of BARREL. “Our main focus has been really on the processes that are occurring out in space. Particles in the Van Allen belts never reach the ground, so they don’t constitute a health threat. Even the X-rays get absorbed, which is why we have to go to balloon altitudes to see them.”

In their new study, the BARREL researchers’ major objective was to obtain simultaneous measurements of the scattered particles and of ionoized gas called plasma out in space near the Earth’s equator. They were particularly interested in simultaneous measurements of a particular kind of plasma wave called electromagnetic ion cyclotron waves and whether these waves were responsible for scattering the particles, which has been an open question for years.

The researchers obtained measurements in Antarctica in 2013 when the balloons and both the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) and Van Allen Probe satellites were near the same magnetic field line. They put the satellite data into their model that tests the wave-particle interaction theory, and the results suggest the wave scattering was the cause of the particle fallout. “This is the first real quantitative test of the theory,” Millan says.

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128 thoughts on “Curious: Electromagnetic waves linked to particle fallout in Earth's atmosphere, new study finds

  1. For all you model-deniers out there, the paper concludes: “the adopted diffusion model did a good job simulating the wave-particle interactions during the event”

      • Indeed. years ago I suggested that the ultimate weapon of war was a blowlamp, which successfully melted all my model lead soldiers. Curiously the Pentagon never took me up on the idea.

      • The old famous Feynman quote says it best:
        In general, we look for a new law by the following process: First we guess it; then we compute the consequences of the guess to see what would be implied if this law that we guessed is right; then we compare the result of the computation to nature, with experiment or experience, compare it directly with observation, to see if it works. If it disagrees with experiment, it is wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science. It does not make any difference how beautiful your guess is, it does not make any difference how smart you are, who made the guess, or what his name is – if it disagrees with experiment, it is wrong. – Dr. R. Feynman
        Religion, on the other hand, is deemed correct even when the models fail to predict. The cargo cult of the CAGW is nothing more than an escathological religion.

      • no models match observations.
        there is a difference between a model’s prediction and the observation.
        That difference can be small to large.
        Interpreting the meaning and significance of that difference is not a simple matter.

      • Mosher,
        You wrote:
        “no models match observations.
        there is a difference between a model’s prediction and the observation.
        That difference can be small to large.
        Interpreting the meaning and significance of that difference is not a simple matter.”
        ============
        In this case I completely agree with you. The interpretation is what one would want to make of it.

      • Why I am so glad to find you agree with me Steven, it was expected that readers would understand that the use of the term ‘match’ did not mean ‘simulate precisely’,but there is no harm in your making it clear…..cheers…Ben

    • Yeah, and they are not predicting what wave-particle interactions are going to be doing in 100 years from now, and also not requiring massive amounts of tax dollars to combat these events. We don’t deny models per se, engineers have been using models (properly) for years. It’s just the arrogance of some climate modelers we’re annoyed about.

      • As an engineer, my first experience of a computer model taught me nearly all I needed to know about models.
        I was tasked with designing a high voltage video amplifier to drive a military heads up display featuring a CRT.
        Some people suggested I make use of the acoustic coupler to input my design and optimise it with one of the circuit modelling programs they had devised. The results were encouraging, so I built it. The circuit itself was a dismal failure.
        Investigation revealed the reason instantly: the model parametrised parasitic capacitance into a simple single value: the reality of semiconductors is that the capacitance varies with applied voltage – an effect made use of in every radio today as the ‘varicap diode’. for small signals this is an acceptable compromise. Over large voltage swings the effect is massively non linear. The model was simply inadequate.
        Most of engineering is to design things so that small unpredictable effects are swamped by large predictable ones. Any stable design has to work like that. If it doesn’t, it ain’t stable. Or reproducible.
        That leads to a direct piece of engineering wisdom: If a system is not dominated by a few major feedback factors, it ain’t stable. And if it has a regions of stability then perturbing it outside those regions will result in gross instability, and the system will be short lived.
        Climate has been in real terms amazingly stable. For millions of years. It has maintained an average of about 282 degrees absolute +- about 5 degrees since forever.
        So called ‘Climate science’ relies on net positive feedback to create alarmist views – and that positive feedback is nothing to do with CO2 allegedly: on the contrary it is a temperature change amplifier pure and simple.
        If such a feedback existed, any driver of temperature, from a minor change in the suns output, to a volcanic eruption must inevitably trigger massive temperature changes. But it simply never has. Or we wouldn’t be here to spout such nonsense.
        With all simple known factors taken care of the basic IPCC style equation boils down to:
        ∆T = λ.k.log( ∆CO2)
        where lambda (λ) is the climate sensitivity that expresses the presupposed propensity of any warming directly attributable to CO2 (k.log(CO2)) radiative forcing and its resultant direct temperature change to be amplified by some unexplained and unknown feedback factor, which is adjusted to match such late 20th century warming as was reasonably certain.
        Everyone argues over the value of lambda. No one is arguing over the actual shape of the equation itself.
        And that is the sleight of hand of the IPCC…arguments about climate sensitivity are pure misdirection away from the actuality of what is going on.
        Consider an alternative:
        ∆T = k.log( ∆CO2) + f(∆x)
        In terms of matching late 20th century warming, this is equally as good, and relies merely on introducing another unknown to replace the unknown lambda, this time not as a multiplier of CO2 driven change, but as a completely independent variable.
        Philosophically both have one unknown. There is little to choose between them.
        Scientifically both the rise and the pause together fit the second model far better.
        Worse, consider some possible mechanisms for what X might be….
        ∆T = k.log( ∆CO2) + f(∆T).
        Let’s say that f(∆T) is in fact a function whose current value depends on non linear and time delayed values of past temperature. So it does indeed represent temperature feedback to create new temperatures!
        This is quite close to the IPCC model, but with one important proviso. The overall long term feedback MUST be negative, otherwise temperatures would be massively unstable over geological timescales.
        BUT we know that short term fluctuatons of quite significant values – ice ages and warm periods – are also in evidence.
        Can long term negative feedback create shorter term instability? Hell yes! If you have enough terms and some time delay, it’s a piece of piss.
        The climate has all the elements needed. temperature, and water. Water vapour (greenhouse gas: acts to increase temperatures) clouds (reduce daytime temps, increase night time temps) and ice (massive albedo modifiers: act to reduce temperatures) are functions of sea and air temperature, and sea and air temperature are a function via albedo and greenhouse modifiers, of water vapour concentrations. Better yet, latent heat of ice/water represents massive amounts of energy needed to effect a phase transition at a single temperature. Lots of lovely non-linearity there. Plus huge delays of decadal or multidecadal length in terms of ocean current circulations and melting/freezing of ice sheets and permafrost.
        Not to mention continental drift, which adds further water cycle variables into the mix.
        Or glaciation that causes falling sea levels, thus exposing more land to lower the albedo where the earth is NOT frozen, and glaciation that strips water vapour out of the air reducing cloud albedo in non glaciated areas.
        It’s a massive non linear hugely time delayed negative feedback system. And that’s just water and ice. Before we toss in volcanic action, meteor strikes, continental drift. solar variability, and Milankovitch cycles…
        The miracle of AGW is that all this has been simply tossed aside, or considered some kind of constant, or a multiplier of the only driver in town, CO2.
        When all you know is linear systems analysis everything looks like a linear system perturbed by an external driver.
        When the only driver you have come up with is CO2, everything looks like CO2.
        Engineers who have done control system theory are not so arrogant. And can recognise in the irregular sawtooth of ice age temperature record a system that looks remarkably like a nasty multiple (negative) feed back time delayed relaxation oscillator.
        Oscillators don’t need external inputs to change, they do that entirely within the feedback that comprises them. Just one electron of thermal noise will start them off.
        What examination of the temperature record shows is that glaciation is slow. It takes many many thousands of years as the ice increases before the lowest temperatures are reached, but that positive going temperatures are much faster – we are only 10,000 years out of the last one.
        The point finally is this: To an engineer, climate science as the IPCC have it is simplistic nonsense. There are far far better models available, to explain climate change based on the complexity of water interactions with temperature. Unfortunately they are far too complex even for the biggest of computers to be much use in simulating climate. And have no political value anyway, since they will essentially say ‘Climate changes irrespective of human activity, over 100 thousand year major cycles, and within that its simply unpredictable noise due to many factors none of which we have any control over’

      • Re: Leo Smith @ 2:11
        Excellent!! That is about the best statement I’ve ever seen pointing out the problem with the AGW theory. Easily understandable and technical enough to not just be your opinion. I’d like to see it elevated to a head post.

      • Oscillators don’t need external inputs to change, they do that entirely within the feedback that comprises them. Just one electron of thermal noise will start them off.
        ==================
        and it would explain the problems with Milankovitch cycles. Milankovitch was originally rejected by climate science, because the orbital forcings were not enough to explain the changes in climate. Until the ocean cores established that climate cycle lengths matched orbital cycle lengths beyond reasonable doubt.
        However, if the changes in earth’s orbit are simply the timing circuit for a natural oscillator, then it matters not how large the orbital changes. The amplitude of the climate changes are within the natural oscillator, while the timing is externally driven.
        And this would explain the steep warming and slow cooling of the ice age cycles. They are not externally forced, they are externally timed. The ramp up and ramp down is not a result of the external forcings, rather they are driven by the nature of the oscillator itself. The oscillator ramps up quicker than it decays, which is not at all unusual in an oscillator. It is perhaps the most common form of RC oscillator.

      • @Leo Smith 02:11 AM:
        Your 3rd paragraph, word “peole”. I do not know what this is. Otherwise, I really enjoyed your comment.
        [Reply: He meant ‘people’, and it’s been corrected. ~ mod.]

      • Leo
        thank you for your excellent analysis. Your comments taken along with the post above about a new discovery, both reinforce the more intuitive sense lots of skeptics have- there are a lot of known unknowns and probably even more unknown unknowns. The idea that CO2 is a control knob and science has it all figured out is ludicrous beyond description.

      • Thanks for your thoughts, LeoSmith.
        It is good to have the viewpoint of an experienced and knowledgeable engineer on GCM’s.
        GCM modelers of course cannot adhere to the correct principles of modeling because the results would not support the AGW hypothesis and the GCM’s are all that they have for support, egregious product and all.

      • Thank you sir very enlightening comment and well said. What an endlessly fascinating sphere we all
        occupy despite the dissemblers and deceivers seeded among us.

      • Leo, you might be interested in these, if you already haven’t seen them (showing the limitation traps of SPICE):
        http://electronicdesign.com/analog/what-s-all-spicey-stuff-anyhow-part-i
        http://electronicdesign.com/analog/what-s-all-spicey-stuff-anyhow-part-ii
        http://electronicdesign.com/analog/what-s-all-spicey-stuff-anyhow-part-25
        And I suspect climate models have similar probs.
        @ferdberple:
        “And this would explain the steep warming and slow cooling of the ice age cycles.”
        Perhaps glaciation is slower but even the little ice age came on quite rapidly (within ~10 years):

      • @ Leo Smith.. That is way too much information to give to CAGW. I just tell them their formula is simply wrong. I’ll let them figure it out. I tend to look at it as a logic problem. From my point of view, CAGW uses this: All dogs have four legs. Therefore all animals that have four legs are dogs. They might have a cow.

    • Perhaps the models did so well because this process has been carried out for many years, and is not a new discovery?
      Is the source of the electrons the inner belt?
      My this is quite an astonishing development.

    • It could also be that the mechanisms during this type of event are actually very well understood, quite well studied/observed and easy to model unlike global climate?

    • I use models in my own work all the time, and they usually work very well.
      Sometimes it’s a little awkward getting the hair and makeup just right, but the models themselves are great.

    • I don’t deny that models can be a useful tool Lief. I just believe that when you try to model a very complex system without knowing all the inputs and what they effect that your models output is questionable.
      If you keep a model general you can possibly learn something and pick up useful ideas to investigate. But your not going to be able to use a model as an effective crystal ball to predict long term results.

    • I suspect that the criticism is more of the critiquing of the models.
      scary? – tick
      benign? – we made a mistake.

      • I think he was referring to all the comments over time that say something like “I stopped reading when they mentioned models”.

    • Their model matches observations in reality. Kudos to them. Seriously, it is good to see scientists comparing their models to reality. That is the big test for any model.

    • Nice strawman there, did you get help with it?
      Nobody is denying all models. What we deny is the claim that models that are supposed to simulate climate can and do.
      Quite obviously models are used in many endeavors, engineering and architecture, circuitry, etc. As long as the models are limited in scope and the theory underlying them is well understood, models can be useful.
      Neither of these conditions apply to the climate models.

    • For all you model-deniers out there
      =================
      what a masterpiece of logic. truly science in america is in good hands. since one model successfully predicted the present, all models must be able to successfully predict the distant future.

    • Oh come on! ‘model deniers’? Are you suggesting that because this model did a good job this proves that all models will do a good job?

    • Again with the “denier” meme. Well maybe you are having a bad day.
      Models are a tool not an end. The hammer is not the kitchen cabinet. The model is not the climate. Here are a few counts against climate models perhaps due to that misunderstanding.
      Count 1. Climate models are used inappropriately. Models that mimic discreet components or processes are useful tools. Modeling the load bearing requirements of a bridge at maximum load and weather scenarios (wind, snow, storms, etc) with the load carrying capability of various designs and materials leads them to a safer more cost effective designs. Using models to attempt to forecast climate and natural events decades into the future is an abuse of modeling.
      Count 2. The completeness of climate models is inadequate. The bridge example is a closed system and there is more than adequate knowledge of all factors involved. Knowledge of how the climate works is painfully and obviously incomplete. Climate models, even the most complex therefore are grossly incomplete.
      Count 3. Circular logic. The input to climate models is “CO2 causes climate change” and then outputs “CO2 caused these climate changes”. You cannot use the conclusion itself to support the conclusion.
      Count 4. Performance. If engineers built bridges that collapsed due to using incomplete calculations and models they would probably go to jail. Fortunately for the public their models are proven. Climate models not so much. Climate models are unproven; they have a poor track record that only apologists and activists can possibly claim are viable forecast models of global climate.
      4 counts where climate models fall short. Please note the operable word, “climate”.

    • No one denies that well designed models can be useful. It does not follow that therefore all models are well designed and useful. We can distinguish climate models which generally stink, from other models which might or might not be useful. Many of us also are skeptical of studies that rely solely on models and not at all on empirical data.

    • In my business, we make geological models of a mineral deposit in the form of constituent blocks of ore some 2-5m to a side with the average grade of each block based on drill holes spaced from 25 to 100m intersecting the mineral deposit. Mining methods and costs are simulated to optimize an economic ‘envelope’ of ore that can me mined at a profit. Statistical analysis guides adding perhaps a few drill holes in certain places to beef up the estimates and redo the model. Similarly, bench tests of metallurgical processing followed up with as little as 10 tonnes of ore in a small pilot plant is done for plant design. A feasibility study simulating it all including safe pitwall slopes, etc, gives estimates of tonnages, capital costs, operating costs and profitability usually within ~+/-15%. Banks are happy to loan you several hundred million to build it all based on models. No the idea of models (based on sufficient data and engineering skill) is just fine.
      This is why we rail at climate models! For one thing, there is nothing new. They make the same models, the same projections that they did in 1990. There is no attempt to simulate reality because that is not the task they were handed. Just like the sciences, models have been given a black eye because of climate science products.

    • I don’t deny the utility of all models. GCMs however are demonstrably worse than worthless, GIGO, kludge, waste of my tax dollar pieces of CACA. When Congress gets serious about cutting spending (as it must since the regime can’t keep spending a trillion dollars more than it takes in annually for six more years) climate computer modeling will be a good place to start.
      My congressman is in the GOP leadership. He’s on board for gutting IPCC & claims to be open to shutting down GISS & NCAR. We’ll see. If not I’m backing his Tea Party primary opponent in 2016.

      • milodonharlani
        National and international product regulations involve a ‘test’ that is nothing more than measuring against a model that is expected to predict performance. Even if it is a specification standard which includes measurements and materials, it is still a model. The arguments that take place when writing standards are often about the difference between the test applied and reality where the product will be used and ‘foreseeable consequences of misuse’.
        Promoting a model of performance (base on measurements to be made during testing) requires at some point that the model be validated by showing the ‘test’ has some meaning in real life. Otherwise there is no point in having a standard in the first place because nothing can be guaranteed.
        Part of my work involves writing compulsory standards. I cannot say that climate models would not be adopted – lots of crummy test methods are adopted because of politicking and promotion – but I certainly wouldn’t approve any of them because they don’t reasonably predict future performance which is the central purpose of creating it. The usual argument in reply is, “Well we gotta do something. We will improve it later.” Later of course may never come because ‘it is already being widely used’. You get my drift.
        Vested interests abound. Usually, however, nations don’t bankrupt themselves following models that are agreed not to work, even if ‘we gotta use something’. In the case of climate, we don’t gotta.

    • the better a thing is understood the better it can be modeled, increasing the usefulness of the model. There are many engineering models that match the dynamics of what they are modeling. 🙂
      Joe Civis

    • Deniers? Really. Wow. Eh, I guess it was just a nonscientific comment by a scientist. Anyone can make stupid comments.

    • Wow. Lief getting his retaliation in early. I certainly won’t deny that some models suck. Others don’t. I use some myself, but I keep my eyes open.

    • Agree, models are useful when they explanatory, predictive, and hypothesis generating powers based upon agreement with observations/measurements and databases populated with observations/measurements.
      It is the over simplistic models that do not have the above powers or the overly-complex models that cannot be tested because they have parameters and processes which cannot be observed or measured and those models constructed to deceive that are so destructive.

    • Models indeed Lief, They are measuring the end result of something they do not understand why it happens, or how it happens, what effect it has both internally and externally on our planet. Then patting themselves on the back. Perhaps they can tell us why we have a magnetic field on earth and why it has lost strength, maybe they can inform us how the electrons appear out of know-where. ?? Models indeed.

  2. So, tin foil hats?
    I’m not real clear about how far this fallout falls. Not to the surface, but is it affecting low earth orbit? Or is it not to worry, just a curiosity?

  3. Keywords:
    relativistic electron precipitation;EMIC waves;pitch angle diffusion;RBSP;BARREL;GOES
    Abstract
    Electromagnetic ion cyclotron (EMIC) waves were observed at multiple observatory locations for several hours on 17 January 2013. During the wave activity period, a duskside relativistic electron precipitation (REP) event was observed by one of the Balloon Array for Radiation belt Relativistic Electron Losses (BARREL) balloons and was magnetically mapped close to Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) 13. We simulate the relativistic electron pitch angle diffusion caused by gyroresonant interactions with EMIC waves using wave and particle data measured by multiple instruments on board GOES 13 and the Van Allen Probes. We show that the count rate, the energy distribution, and the time variation of the simulated precipitation all agree very well with the balloon observations, suggesting that EMIC wave scattering was likely the cause for the precipitation event. The event reported here is the first balloon REP event with closely conjugate EMIC wave observations, and our study employs the most detailed quantitative analysis on the link of EMIC waves with observed REP to date.

  4. Correlation isn’t causation, and while their model may give good results the science aint settled yet! In fact science is pretty much never settled, there are always assumptions, always. For example in Physics a BIG assumption is that empty space is invariant, well how do you prove that, given we are not in a position to check many corners of the universe/multiverse ourselves. Who ever proved that the permeability of free space (that sets the speed of light) is a constant at all points and times in the universe/multiverse’s history?
    One explanation for the red shift is that the permeabilitity of free space is gradually changing over time and thus the speed of light varies over time.

    • especially since the speed of light is not a constant. we know from observation that light traveling through air for example moves slower than light moving through a vacuum. and we know that space is not a perfect vacuum. and we know that gravity itself red-shifts/blue-shifts light, depending in the direction of travel in relation to the gravity source.
      Einstein’s famous thought experiment showed that one cannot tell the difference between gravity and acceleration. It could well be that the cause of the observed red-shift is similarly obscured.

      • I once opined to an astronomer that the red shift would be the same if we were on the edge of the universe and all the light sources farther away were ever closer to the center of mass and thus more affected by gravitational red shifting rather than that more distant objects were moving away faster than near ones. Mathematically it looks the same, the problem is how do you actually map out the density of the universe and show its edges? The moving away faster theory does not suffer from needing that assumption.
        Though if the permeability of free space were changing over time, Maxwell’s equations have some time variances that haven’t been accounted for. \frac{d(\epsilon_0)}{dt} would really complicate the integrals!

    • Yes…dark energy is just another name for zpe, and the Casimir Effect at the micro level is at work in the macro universe so that zpe is not at the same energy ‘pressure’ omnipresently, nor in time at any particular place. Zpe ‘pressure’ translates into the permeability of free space…imo.

    • The beauty and the awfulness of climate science is that everything has an effect. Even painting your roads white..
      The problem is to work out which are second and or third order effects and which are really crucial causes.
      Personally I think Carbon dioxide is a second order effect not a prime cause and can be safely ignored.
      Svensmark? he’s on to something for sure. But whether its a primai cause, or second order or third order cause is simply unguessable right now.
      What he has done is focussed attention on CLOUDS. the thing that barely appears at all in IPCC type models.
      And yet have a massive impact on incident (and emitted) radiation and albedo and are highly non linear in their behaviour.

      • Met office has monthly and annual data since 1659. Data ahows that summer temperatures since 1659 have oscillated, but overall trend is near 0C/century, while all the warming took place in the winter months, with an uptrend of about 0.4C/century.
        It also should be noted that the CET shows good correlation with N. Hemisphere and global temperatures (last two available only since 1880).
        http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/MidSummer-MidWinter.htm
        In England in summer time land temperatures are considerably higher than nearby seas, mainly due to the TSI, zero trend would suggest that the TSI may have been constant.
        Winter temperatures tend to be higher when cloudy than when the sky is clear, and surrounding sea on average is warmer (crossover point for the averages is sometime in the late spring), one could conclude that degree of cloudiness increase is the ’warming force’. On first instance that brings into play the Svensmark’s hypothesis, but I tend to disagree. For number of years I’ve looked into an alternative and found considerable evidence (or at least correlation, yeas I know c is not c), then I came across this:
        “One possibility is the movements of Earth’s core (where Earth’s magnetic field originates) might disturb Earth’s magnetic shielding of charged-particle (i.e., cosmic ray) fluxes that have been hypothesized to affect the formation of clouds. This could affect how much of the sun’s energy is reflected back to space and how much is absorbed by our planet. ”
        http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/earth20110309.html
        Which is more or less what I found evidence of.

      • Thanks Leo, this layman found your long explanation above extremely helpful, despite the ‘Engineer’s English’ 😉
        I think there are far too many theorists out there who are addicted to quantifying everything and, consequently, lose sight of the fact that observable and measurable data points are a function of intrinsic qualities that are by definition unquantifiable in purely physical scientific terms. In other words, the universe is first qualitative and only then quantitative. We’re forever trying to arrive at qualitative knowledge (the ‘why’) by looking through the telescope backwards, extrapolating our conclusions from things that can be counted (quantified) into qualitative theories that can not be counted (falsified).
        Engineers are of course faced on a daily basis with the reality of how things really work in practice given their intrinsic properties – practice trumps theory. This is what tends to give them a much keener insight into how the physical world actually works as opposed to how the theorists think it should work as projected by their overly simplistic models.
        To sum it up, a quote from a song by one of my favourite artists: “They will always believe a lie who see with and not through the eye”. I would argue though that it’s not either/or, but first ‘through the eye’ and then ‘with the eye’. But there you go, I’m just an armchair philosopher and not a professional scientist…

  5. I have read the article and can not claim that I fully understood what is going on. Analysing a geomagnetic storm (proton aurora, Dst 60 nT, Kp=4) by employing term ‘electromagnetic (cyclotron) wave’ and no mention of so called ‘reconnection’, has to be a step forward and a positive development, whatever model is employed (However, there are a few differences between the simulated and observed X-ray spectra. First, though very similar, the simulated flux is still higher than the observed by 2.7 times on average..

    • the simulated flux is still higher than the observed by 2.7 times on average.
      =================
      and by a strange co-incidence, the IPCC model mean is running 2.7 times hotter than observations, on average.

          • I’m glad you noticed, although your interpretation is incorrect, I am pointing out that there were no observations before 1846 of all the components hence the “model discrepancy” and after 1846 accurate observations have shown 169 years of perfect correlation, and due to accurate observation of all the components after 1846, the accuracy of the model has increased, which means current observations increase the forecasting ability of the model. And as the components of the model are very well understood, the plot (above) will always give accurate results post 1846.

          • The Keplerian model I use has a range between 4713BC to 9999AD. Nasa has the same limitations as noted in the ‘Approximate Errors’ and the margin of error for the outer planets is greater than the margin of error for the inner planets, there is also no observations for the outer planets before the dates I’ve mentioned above in the graph to confirm their model. And the margin of error for the elements of the outer planets also increases the further back in time it is used. Besides, for the graph above I’ve been using a model that uses the JPL ephemerides De102, later versions of JPL ephemerides maybe more accurate and correlate much better before 1846.
            Either way, there are still no observations to confirm any model of the outer planets before 1846, but the 169 years of observations that we do have, all of them correlate perfectly with solar cycle activity!
            What odds would you give it for the correlation to continue?

          • 169 years of observations are enough to determine the orbits to the accuracy needed. Since there is no good correlation to begin with, giving odds for its continuation is meaningless. The ‘model’ is not just a curve-fitting exercise, but is an applications of the laws of gravity.

          • 169 years of observations recorded with a specific point in time that correlate with another set of observations over 169 years is not a “curve-fitting” exercise, as they are both bound by their own separate time frame of reference, there is no movement for “curve-fitting”, the accuracy of Nasa’s Keplerian model or my model can not be falsified before 1846 (I clearly show this in the graph) as there are no observations to verify its accuracy, you’re suggesting we throw out and ignore the 169 years of observations based on the models discrepancy before observations, that sounds like a false negative.
            The fact remains, the observations correlate. Therefore it’s continuation is meaningful.

          • First of all, the correlation is poor. Second, the planets that count [Jupiter and Saturn] have been observed since antiquity. Third, regardless of that, it is generally accepted that we can determine the orbits accurately 5 million years back [Laskar]. Fourth, you are fooling yourself.

          • Jupiter and Saturn are irreverent regarding this graph, it clearly states the two planets in question and of course we can model millions of years back, one major problem with that is lack of verification, it can’t be falsified.
            The 169 years of observations plotted in the graph rise and fall at the same rate as solar cycle activity.
            In what way do you mean the planets that count are Jupiter and Saturn? are you suggesting they alone have a solar relationship?
            btw Leif, tone it down a little please, I’m not advocating any particular theory.

          • The verification comes from the validity of the laws of gravity [Newtons and General Relativity]. The only assumption here is that those laws were the same back then as now on the time and length scales involved. I’m not peddling any planetary theory, but making a comment that the further away a planet is the lesser its expected effect. To me, your graph is a strong refutation of your claim. And no further debate on that point seems necessary. If you wish to continue fooling yourself, go ahead.

          • What claim is this you keep referring to? I’m showing accurate data and making a distinction between the observations and the models. I stated the fact about the outer planets degrading more than the inner planets in the models because it is true! before 1846 there are no observations to confirm any elements of the planetary models, there is no available proxy data either.. (hint!)

          • Your claim that there is a valid correlation. The laws of physics do not need ‘verification’ using the old observations. In fact, the recent visit to the outer planets by spacecraft provide all the information we need [masses, satellites, shapes, etc] we need for accurate orbit calculations hundreds of year back. The ‘discrepancy’ you note is simply due to breakdown of the claimed, spurious correlation.

          • There is nothing spurious about 169 years of correlation and the fact that I’ve correctly pointed out flaws in a model before the 169 years of correlation between observations, should tell you I’m honest. Now if you still want to believe in these model “hindcasts” over million of years please yourself. I know they are faulty!

  6. @ Jan Smit…. “practice trumps theory”
    Which reminds me of another philosopher’s saying: “In theory there is no difference between theory and principle. In practice there is.
    Yogi Berra

    • Yes, ddenton, exactly! I don’t know if it was a deliferate mistale on your part, but I think you meant the following: “In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.”
      And from good ol’ Bertie himself: “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”
      🙂

  7. “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” – R. Buckminster Fuller
    Preface
    I am a retired video game programmer and have decided to try my hand at modeling the Earths climate, even though I tend to believe it is inherently chaotic and unpredictable.
    As in all attempts, it is important to get the big picture correct. The following is my feeble first cut at grasping the big picture. My thinking is that if I can identify and correctly quantify the major drivers and attractors I can get an approximation close enough to reality that the limit theorem will apply.
    The Climate (A Remedial Tutorial for Dummies, or Climate Scientists)
    In the same way that I can’t disprove the theory that the oil companies are keeping a hundred mile per gallon carburetor off the market (the lack of evidence is evidence the conspiracy is working perfectly), I can show how a carburetor works and why we aren’t all driving around getting a hundred miles to the gallon. I can’t falsify the CO2 theory, but I can accurately describe how the climate works and explain how increased levels of CO2 cannot lead to runaway global warming.
    Part 1
    Part one of this tutorial naturally follows three basic facts. Number one is that the Earth is a rotating sphere and because of that fact receives the most solar radiation per square meter at the equator and almost no solar radiation at the poles, this fact produces distinctive non-correlated climates based on their relative proportion of Solar Radiation.
    Number two is that over seventy percent of the earths surface is covered with water. The ocean absorbs solar radiation and primarily cools via evaporation.
    Number three is the fact that evaporation cools both the ocean and the atmosphere.
    I will start this by going backwards, first explaining how evaporation cools the atmosphere. The simplest and most accurate example is of releasing gas from a pressurized container. As the pressure falls the temperature falls, both inside and out of the container. (Expansion takes Work, which takes Energy) Evaporation causes a lower pressure, cooling the ocean and atmosphere. The precise meteorologic term for the this effect is Low Pressure. The lowest atmospheric pressures cause the biggest most powerful storms.
    Back to number two, short wave radiation from the Sun is absorbed by the ocean to depths down to a hundred meters or more if the ocean is clear enough. This energy causes the upper layers to warm and stratify based on density caused by the expansion of the warmer water.
    The surface of the Ocean (not the bulk of the Ocean), the top few microns only, cools by evaporation, conduction and long wave radiation. Long wave atmospheric radiation is absorbed at the surface and increases the evaporation rate.
    This is the key to understanding Earths climate. The ocean absorbs short wave radiation from the Sun and cools by evaporation. This is the true “Greenhouse affect” caused solely by the ocean. The average ocean temperature is approximately 5˚C exactly what the S-B Law predicts for a perfect blackbody, while the ‘average’ surface temperature of the ocean is in excess of 22˚C.
    The Earth’s climate divides naturally into 3 (2 to 4) climatic zones based on their respective energy budgets and season. The Tropic with its positive energy balance and the Subtropics and Temperate zones with their seasonal energy fluctuating balances and the Polar zones with their negative energy balances.
    The Tropical and Sub tropical climate portions of the Earth from the Equator to the 38th parallels, comprises 61% of the earths surface and 73% of the solar insolation per square meter, are characterized by high solar insolation and a positive radiation balance (absorbs more solar insolation than it emits). Ocean site based thermometers average 24˚C to 29˚C year round. The ocean absorbs about 35 MegaJoules per m2 each day. During the summer for each given hemisphere the oceans up to ~60˚ latitude absorb 35 MJ/m2 per day, because of the longer days.
    The Temperate zones, 38˚ to 60˚, 25% of the Earths surface and 21% of the solar insolation and the Polar zones, 60˚ to 90˚, 14% of the Earths surface and 6% of the solar insolation are characterized by low solar insolation and a negative radiation balance. Thermometer records indicate average temperatures declining from the 20˚C range in the lower latitudes to -30˚C to -50˚C average temperatures at the poles with extremely wide seasonal variations.
    Part 2
    Part one of the tutorial showed how the oceans and evaporation accounted for over 70% of the earths surface and over 85% of the Earths energy budget. What it neglected was the affect of solar radiation over land and the differences between atmospheric radiation affects over land and water.
    Solar short wave radiation is primarily absorbed by the dry surface and after warming the surface, is promptly emitted as long wave radiation, warming the atmosphere (via gasses that thermalize long wave radiation). Downwelling atmospheric long wave radiation is also absorbed by the dry surface and promptly emitted back again as long wave radiation further increasing atmospheric warming.
    If the atmosphere was completely transparent to SW radiation and completely opaque to LW radiation there is no theoretical limit to the surface temperature.
    I’ll repeat that for emphasis. With an atmosphere completely opaque to LW radiation the surface temperature would eventually reach infinity (after an infinitely long time of course). If Venus’s atmosphere was transparent to Short Wave Solar radiation its surface radiation would be hotter than the Sun’s.
    Spectroscopic analysis of Earths radiation shows that its atmosphere is effectively opaque at a couple of frequencies, primarily the CO2 absorption bands. Unless Earths atmosphere fundamentally changes, doublings of CO2 will have no appreciable affect on the radiation balance. The CO2 absorption bands are already opaque.
    Part 3
    Conclusions, In this simplistic analysis I have neglected all of the very important secondary energy pathways and feedbacks, clouds, wind, currents, land vs. ocean geometric distribution, photosynthesis, atmospheric density, all the rate changes, albedo, etc.
    However, the big picture is clear, Solar radiation, the Ocean and Spherical shape of the rotating and orbiting Earth are the biggest drivers and attractors.
    Secondary, but important drivers are disruptions to the energy flow, like land masses and clouds. For example, if the land masses were uniformly concentrated along the Equator the entire Earths climate would be very different from what it is today. One pole might be locked in an ice age while the other pole is a tropical paradise, or it may be oscillating ice ages from one pole to the other, the possibilities are endless.
    What is clear from the foregoing (evaporation is a negative feedback) is that affects like changing Aerosol levels, CO2 levels, Clouds, Plants, etc. don’t have enough Power to change the Climate in its respective regions.
    The only changes with enough power to change the climate are land mass distribution changes, blocking or allowing ocean currents, ocean levels rising or falling, etc.
    Energy flux via the water cycle, ocean absorption, evaporation, clouds, currents, wind (pressure changes from evaporation) is the key to understanding the climate.

    • Genghis,
      “Unless Earths atmosphere fundamentally changes, doublings of CO2 will have no appreciable affect on the radiation balance. The CO2 absorption bands are already opaque.”
      This is true but incomplete. At the Top of Atmosphere where there is almost no water vapor, increasing CO2 causes atmospheric radiation to space to occur at a higher altitude, thus at a lower temperature. This increases the energy in the atmosphere. No one has shown any mechanism for this increased energy at the TOA to affect surface temperatures, however. Radiating CO2 emissions will be completely thermalized far above the surface.
      If someone knows how this is wrong please tell me.

      • Michael Moon – “This is true but incomplete. At the Top of Atmosphere where there is almost no water vapor, increasing CO2 causes atmospheric radiation to space to occur at a higher altitude, thus at a lower temperature. This increases the energy in the atmosphere.”
        CO2 thermalizes a couple of radiation frequencies , that is it absorbs radiation, but doesn’t emit radiation at those frequencies. Those are the black lines you see on spectroscopic identification bands. What CO2 is doing (supposed to anyway) is raising the temperature at higher altitudes. That was the Hot Spot that was supposed to prove Global warming, but it doesn’t exist. The reason it doesn’t is because the CO2 bands are essentially opaque at a lower altitude, so there is very little radiation left for the CO2 at the higher elevations to absorb.
        Michael Moon – “No one has shown any mechanism for this increased energy at the TOA to affect surface temperatures, however. Radiating CO2 emissions will be completely thermalized far above the surface.”
        You are right. Except that there aren’t radiating CO2 Emissions, I read that as CO2 absorbing radiation and adding kinetic energy to the atmosphere.

      • At TOA CO2 is radiating, as are Oxygen and Nitrogen. The temperature is close to peak for the 15-micron CO2 absorption band. As far as I can tell, there is no way for this radiation to reach the surface, as it will be absorbed and thermalized by CO2 far above the surface. And, since at the surface CO2 already saturates, could someone please explain to me how increasing CO2 in the atmosphere could increase surface temperatures? The surface is, after all, where we live, and if the Sherpa’s on Everest are warmed a little by CO2 they will probably say Thank God…

    • I think important effects of solar incoming near IR “longwave” radiation are unjustifiably ignored because they can’t penetrate the ocean to depth. These spectra amount to about half of the energy in TSI, and unlike atmospheric back radiation, they CAN warm the ocean surface above atmospheric temperature.

  8. Michael Moon – “At TOA CO2 is radiating, as are Oxygen and Nitrogen. The temperature is close to peak for the 15-micron CO2 absorption band.”
    Yes, and the CO2 is happily absorbing and thermalizing at the 15-micron band there.
    But it is the radiation from the ground that warms the air, not radiation between the air molecules, that is a net zero game.
    Michael Moon – “And, since at the surface CO2 already saturates, could someone please explain to me how increasing CO2 in the atmosphere could increase surface temperatures? ”
    By the process I explained above. Solar radiation warms the land. The land radiates and warms the atmosphere. Downwelling long wave atmospheric radiation then warms the land, the more opaque the atmosphere is to long wave radiation the warmer it gets and the warmer it gets the more downwelling radiation hits the surface.
    Basically what is happening is the Sun is warming the surface and the atmosphere is trapping the energy. If the atmosphere was a perfect conductor of SW radiation and a perfect insulator of long wave radiation, the surface would eventually exceed the temperature of the sun.

    • Except it wouldn’t: The narrowness of the CO2 absorption band place an upper limit on the temperature at which the atmosphere remains opaque, because the peak black body temperature will place the emissions into a shorter wavelength and bleed the energy into space. Thus infinite temperature is an impossibility.

      • Owen in GA – “Except it wouldn’t:”
        Of course infinite temperature is silly : ) The real question is how much warming, if any?
        The actual evidence is that any warming isn’t measurable. I happen to think it is because the surface temperature of the ocean can’t get any warmer, much like adding heat to a boiling pot of water isn’t going to increase the temperature.

      • Even a temperature of 30C (303K) shifts over 50% of the energy out of the CO2 band (center of the CO2 band is at a temperature of ~197K in fact if the temperature was 197K nearly 70% the energy would be in the CO2 band) (I had to plot the distribution for the various temperatures in excel to visualize it – haven’t done that since about 1985.) Of course 303K puts out 5.56 times as much power as 197k.
        Of course I still haven’t seen good reporting on just exactly how opaque the CO2 window in the atmosphere is. Exactly how far will a 15 micron photon travel in the atmosphere, or in other words, what is the \mu in the e^{-\mu x}

    • “Unless Earths atmosphere fundamentally changes, doublings of CO2 will have no appreciable affect on the radiation balance. The CO2 absorption bands are already opaque.”
      Make up your mind.
      “Downwelling long wave atmospheric radiation then warms the land, the more opaque the atmosphere is to long wave radiation the warmer it gets and the warmer it gets the more downwelling radiation hits the surface.”
      Sense-free statement, sorry I asked.

  9. Genghis: you have neglected the effects of atmospheric circulation. Sun is warming surface unevenly, heat is transferred by conduction to touching air, which rises, replaced by cooler descending air warming the atmosphere above at least through the boundary layer.

    • Victor Frank – “Genghis: you have neglected the effects of atmospheric circulation. Sun is warming surface unevenly, heat is transferred by conduction to touching air, which rises, replaced by cooler descending air warming the atmosphere above at least through the boundary layer.”
      Yes. What I am trying to do is figure out how many ‘effects’ I can neglect at first. I am guessing that on a water planet conduction between the atmosphere and the ocean is going to be small, my guess is that evaporation would dominate in the plus 95% category.
      Here is the thing though, the engine I am going to try and use ‘learns’. If I can get past complete garbage with a water world, (Get it generating seasons and cold poles) I will try and add land and clouds, etc. Ultimately it should generate ocean currents, air currents etc. closely mimicking Earth. I am betting the big obvious energy fluxes will generate a reasonable climate, tropics, temperate zones, etc. without needing details like conduction.

    • Victor Frank,
      My longer reply seems to have gone into the void.
      Yes you are right. What I am trying to do is ignore the small energy flows and focus entirely on the biggest energy flows and see if I can generate a reasonable ‘Climate’, Tropics, Frozen Poles, temperate zones, etc. Then start calculating the smaller flows.
      I am pretty sure that just using the water cycle I can get a model that is better than any of the vaunted IPCC models.

  10. Genghis: Both replies received finally. Thank you.
    You might be interested in a study I did for a meteorology class assuming only radiative transfer with caveats
    at http://www.qsl.net/k6fv/index.html choose 2008 Additions Metr 406 final. My SFSU site is presently down.

    • Victor Frank,
      Now I know where the name comes from : ) I have a ham radio on the boat.
      I looked at your assignments, very interesting. My first pass is going to be very similar. I am simply going to do the radiation – evaporation calls for a single square meter of the ocean and the cubic meter of water below the surface and the cubic meter of air above on a spread sheet. Then replicate it 9 times going from the 0 at the equator to 90 at the pole and see if I can’t get reasonable zonal temperatures.
      Easy right? : )

  11. OK we got hiss waves, chorus waves and EMIC waves accelerating electrons and ultra relativistic electrons.
    On the Jan 17 2013 time period of the observed REP event was there a flapping of the IMF involved?
    From page 2 of the article there was a minor substorm.
    “”2. Observations
    The REP event reported here occured on 17 January 2013, which was moderately active day, Kp around 2
    to 4 (not shown). A moderate storm sudden commencement occurred at around 0 UT in association with
    an increase in solar wind dynamic pressure, followed by a geomagnetic storm, with Dst reaching ∼−60 nT
    at the end of the day (Figures 1a and 1b). Between 01 and 06 UT, long-lasting EMIC waves were observed
    from ground and space throughout the duskside/nightside magnetosphere, ranging over L∼4.5–8 and
    MLT∼15:40–03:30.””
    What about that
    “”4. Cold ion composition:?””
    page 4
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2014GL062273/pdf

    • I am glad Carla read it and said something about the paper.
      Geomagnetic disturbances and storms occur all the time which do not have any explanation in the solar wind. There are a small list of other reasons for storms given, if you follow spaceweather, and these are not always adequate, or they may be plausible but not the real or only reason for the geomagnetic disturbance.
      What about gamma flares for example? Do they zing the gm field? If so, at what speed do they reach the earth? How many of these large X-flares have emitted gamma flares, but Fermi does not say anything?
      What about today, for another example? This whole week we’ve been whacked, and now there is Kp 6 and 7. – It’s not that the sun is flatline but it’s nothing special either. NEOs often coincide, but I don’t want to get yelled at for saying so. These are only detected hours before in some cases, and many may escape detection altogether untill they have broken apart and caused a fright with fireballs.
      So the question is a good one, but today’s storm is a good illustration in point, that the causes of gm storms are not all accurately accounted for. So how can you say that a gm had to do with the EMIC waves, although it might have coincided?

  12. @
    Leo Smith
    January 6, 2015 at 2:11 am
    While I have no business making a remark on this subject, your analysis struck me as the right approach. A model is sufficient only as an attempt to set hypothetical parameters. When actual output doesn’t support the hypothetical, obviously something must change. The change you propose is in my opinion on the money. In James Dyson’s book The World of Ice, he spends his first chapter describing how close the next ice age is to us. It is just over our heads, and the further north you go the closer it is. Orbital oscillations bring it closer or further away but it is always there. It does not take much imagination to see some of the variables that contribute to ice age conditions, and vice versa, but others may be quite obscure. System outputs no matter how controlled vary and for that matter all climate parameters are always oscillating due to local conditions and global inputs. As your post clearly states, this is not new stuff. Whether dealing with electronic oscillations, tool chatter, or something as mundane as a vibrating tire, it isn’t simple. The idea that carbon dioxide could overcome the internal cycles or even drive the system is naïve to say the least. If you have ever just stopped and listened to a large complex machine running a full tilt, very subtle cycles are detectable. If thing are not going well, stronger and stronger rhythms become apparent. Could it be that when our climate system is unperturbed the ice will return?

  13. Spaceweather.com report from today. Beautiful.aurora pics from Russia..
    What happened? The interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) near our planet tipped south, opening a crack in Earth’s magnetosphere. Solar wind poured in to fuel the strongest magnetic storm since Sept. 2014. NOAA analysts believe the fluctuation in IMF is related to the arrival of a CME originally expected to miss Earth
    http://0e33611cb8e6da737d5c-e13b5a910e105e07f9070866adaae10b.r15.cf1.rackcdn.com/Ruslan-Akhmetsafin-DSC_6608_1420701183_lg.jpg
    http://0e33611cb8e6da737d5c-e13b5a910e105e07f9070866adaae10b.r15.cf1.rackcdn.com/Ruslan-Akhmetsafin-DSC_6624_1420701183_lg.jpg
    Chuckle for ya Dr. S. My scatter brain didn’t realize that the radiation belts are actually trapped in their location by Earth’s magnetic field. (magnetosphere) So, any geomagnetic activity has some affect on the radiation belts..

  14. Leif don’t all the electromagnetic pauses lines converge at the poles ? Just like the colour picture at the top of the page shows and once you add rotation and these field lines tangle, do they create a torus (donut) we call the jet stream ?

    • Not the way you [presumably] imagine]. What is called the ‘jetstream’ is in the ordinary troposphere where we live and that is not of electromagnetic origin. There are currents 100 km up called ‘electrojets’ but they are not the ‘jetstream’. The beautiful top picture is looking at electrons streaming in along magnetic field lines and colliding with the air 100+ km up making it glow.

  15. Leif “Jet streams are caused by a combination of a planet’s rotation on its axis and atmospheric heating (by solar radiation and, on some planets other than Earth, internal heat). Jet streams form near boundaries of adjacent air masses with significant differences in temperature, such as the polar region and the warmer air towards the equator.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jet_stream
    Leif I just see by energizing birkeland currents you can squeeze the jet stream , a bit like placing a boulder on the edge of a fast flowing river, the water has to take the path of least resistance and go around the obstruction.
    “Birkeland currents are also one of a class of plasma phenomena called a z-pinch, so named because the azimuthal magnetic fields produced by the current pinches the current into a filamentary cable. This can also twist, producing a helical pinch that spirals like a twisted or braided rope, and this most closely corresponds to a Birkeland current. Pairs of parallel Birkeland currents will also interact due to Ampère’s force law: parallel Birkeland currents moving in the same direction will attract each other with an electromagnetic force inversely proportional to their distance apart whilst parallel Birkeland currents moving in opposite directions will repel each other. There is also a short-range circular component to the force between two Birkeland currents that is opposite to the longer-range parallel forces.[11]”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birkeland_current

        • Just shows you don’t know what you are talking about, but don’t despair you are not alone, there are lots of people here in that same boat. It seems that your Wikipedia page has been hijacked by the Electric Universe Cult.

      • Gravity does… but it exists where the ‘jetstreams’ are, maybe what you’re saying is that the atmosphere is not effected by Gravity lmao, and polar fields such as the sun don’t sweep past our planet? get in there Leif.

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