As you might have guessed, this is no surprise to this researcher. It is good to see the science community taking this scenario very seriously. What’s a bit different is the choice to go public with this hard hitting evidence highlighting the consequence of Earth’s weakening magnetic field, along with Cycle 24’s solar activity reaching solar minimum.
I am once again humbled to bring evidence showing my research is months, sometimes a year or two or three, ahead of fundamental science communities.
As a brief reminder, the less intensity of solar activity such as coronal mass ejections (CMEs), solar flares, and coronal holes – the greater amount of galactic cosmic rays enter Earth’s atmosphere, and the higher charged particles penetrate Earth’s lithosphere, and in my personal research, has an influence down to the mantle.
Last week’s double launch of space weather balloons over Mexico and California was a success. The goal of the experiment was to measure cosmic rays in the atmosphere above both countries and compare the results. A first look at the data reveal big differences.
These curves show dose rate vs. altitude. They diverge rapidly above ~15,000 feet, with radiation levels over central California typically 1.5 times higher than over Mexico. This means air travelers over California can expect to receive significantly greater doses of cosmic radiation compared to their counterparts flying south of the border. In both places, radiation levels reached a peak in the stratosphere. At those altitudes, radiation dose rates were 60 times greater than sea level for Mexico, 90 times greater than sea level for California.
The reason for these differences is Earth’s magnetic field which, generally speaking, provides greater shielding against cosmic rays near the equator (Mexico) than at mid-latitudes (California). The radiation sensors onboard our helium balloons detect X-rays and gamma-rays in the energy range 10 keV to 20 MeV. They trace secondary cosmic rays, the spray of debris created when primary cosmic rays from deep space hit the top of Earth’s atmosphere.
Soon after our monitoring program began, we quickly realized that radiation levels were increasing. Why? The main reason is the solar cycle. In recent years, sunspot counts have plummeted as the Sun’s magnetic field weakens. This has allowed more cosmic rays from deep space to penetrate the solar system. As 2017 winds down, our latest measurements show the increase continuing at pace–with an interesting exception due to an influx of a large X9.3 solar flare.
In Sept. 2017, the quiet Sun surprised space weather forecasters with a sudden outburst of explosive activity. On Sept. 3rd, a huge sunspot appeared. In the week that followed, it unleashed the strongest solar flare in more than a decade (X9-class), hurled a powerful CME toward Earth, and sparked a severe geomagnetic storm (G4-class). During the onslaught we quickened the pace of balloon launches and found radiation dropping to levels we hadn’t seen since 2015. The flurry of solar flares and CMEs actually pushed some cosmic rays away from Earth.
Interestingly, after the Sun’s outburst radiation levels in the stratosphere took more than 2 months to fully rebound. Now they are back on track, increasing steadily as the quiet Sun resumes its progress toward Solar Minimum. The fact that we can make these measurements over California shows that you do not have to travel to polar regions to experience space weather. We have known charged particles can effect weather patterns worldwide.
Update on Kids Christmas Fund
We have been able to place a few wonderful gifts under the tree for my two beautiful daughters thanks to you. If it’s possible, I will try to fulfill their Christmas list the best I can. There are two big items each has asked for. ———–Alexa (9yrs) wants one of those new hoover boards. Sophia (5yrs) wants an AmericanGirl doll “Tenney”.
For those seeing this for the first time, there really is no need to explain further this uncomfortable position I’ve put myself in. Because of my choices some years ago to venture off into independent research and publishing – I am learning, mostly the hard way, to navigate the peaks and valleys of not having that comfortable umbrella of the more structured agencies. We all make our choices – so it is what it is.
Here’s wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Wishing you lots of love, joy and happiness. May your Christmas sparkle with moments of love, laughter and goodwill, And may the year ahead be full of contentment and joy.
Kids Christmas Fund