Special Offer to Former Earth Changes Media Members – ONE TIME ONLY

First, I wish to thank those of you who have been supporting ECM  aka (Earth Changes TV) and now SOC over the years by maintaining your subscription even when we ventured into making it a free site to allow the many to gain access to our valuable news and research. Without you, we would have not been able to sustain our service.

As a result of natural disasters occurring more often (no surprise for us paying attention), I find myself engaged in the onsite events more often, and less available to maintain my alternative ventures keeping SOC healthy. But thanks to my wife’s exorbitant creative thinking, I believe we found a way to stay on top.

Between now and January 1st 2017, by donating $10 you will be grandfathered into a full one year membership. Beginning January 1st 2017, we will be going back to our annual memberships starting at $34.95 per year. Yes, this is to say with just $10 you will have a full membership for the next full year of 2017.

For those of you who can do a bit more, we graciously appreciate when you can provide larger amounts – it truly goes a long way in keeping us alive and well.

Go to the following link which takes you to a page. On the right side of our home page under where it says “Science of Cycles Community Support” you will find a drop-down menu to choose your amount. Beginning next year we will have other methods for you to purchase a membership, for now please use PayPal. Remember, you do not have to join PayPal to use it. Just look for the tap that says Pay with Debit or Credit Card. No sign-up is necessary.   Click Here

I have more breaking news I am sitting on right now, and will be posing and sending out over the holidays.     Cheers, Mitch

Computer Models Find Ancient Solutions to Climate Change at Chaco Canyon

From the perspective of this writer, I am pleased to witness the sciences of ancient text, archaeology,  and anthropology connect the cycles of new with the cycles of old. Now, we might just get a better understanding and ‘preparedness’ for natural cyclical events such as that of warming and cooling trends the Earth has seen all her life.

Washington State University archaeologists are at the helm of new research using sophisticated computer technology to learn how past societies such as Chaco Canyon responded to climate change. Their work, which links ancient climate and archaeological data, could help modern communities identify new crops and other adaptive strategies when threatened by drought, extreme weather and other environmental challenges.

In a new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Jade d’Alpoim Guedes, assistant professor of anthropology, and WSU colleagues Stefani Crabtree, Kyle Bocinsky and Tim Kohler examine how recent advances in computational modeling are reshaping the field of archaeology.

“For every environmental calamity you can think of, there was very likely some society in human history that had to deal with it,” said Kohler, emeritus professor of anthropology at WSU. “Computational modeling gives us an unprecedented ability to identify what worked for these people and what didn’t.”

Kohler is a pioneer in the field of model-based archaeology. He developed sophisticated computer simulations, called agent-based models, of the interactions between ancestral peoples in the American Southwest and their environment.

WSU researchers also used crop-niche modeling to identify a viable alternative food source on the Tibetan Plateau. Rapidly rising temperatures make it difficult for the region’s inhabitants to grow cold weather crops and raise and breed yaks, a staple form of subsistence.

He launched the Village Ecodynamics Project in 2001 to simulate how virtual Pueblo Indian families, living on computer-generated and geographically accurate landscapes, likely would have responded to changes in specific variables like precipitation, population size and resource depletion.

By comparing the results of agent-based models against real archaeological evidence, anthropologists can identify past conditions and circumstances that led different civilizations around the world into periods of growth and decline.

Agent-based modeling is also used to explore the impact humans can have on their environment during periods of climate change.

One study mentioned in the WSU review demonstrates how drought, hunting and habitat competition among growing populations in Egypt led to the extinction of many large-bodied mammals around 3,000 B.C. In addition, d’Alpoim Guedes and Bocinsky, an adjunct faculty member in anthropology, are investigating how settlement patterns in Tibet are affecting erosion.

Species distribution or crop-niche modeling is another sophisticated technology that archaeologists use to predict where plants and other organisms grew well in the past and where they might be useful today.

Bocinsky and d’Alpoim Guedes are using the modeling technique to identify little-used or in some cases completely forgotten crops that could be useful in areas where warmer weather, drought and disease impact food supply.

One of the crops they identified is a strain of drought-tolerant corn the Hopi Indians of Arizona adapted over the centuries to prosper in poor soil. “Our models showed Hopi corn could grow well in the Ethiopian highlands where one of their staple foods, the Ethiopian banana, has been afflicted by emerging pests, disease and blasts of intense heat,” Bocinsky said. “Cultivating Hopi corn and other traditional, drought-resistant crops could become crucial for human survival in other places impacted by climate change.”

WSU researchers also used crop-niche modeling to identify a viable alternative food source on the Tibetan Plateau. Rapidly rising temperatures make it difficult for the region’s inhabitants to grow cold weather crops and raise and breed yaks, a staple form of subsistence.

In a paper published in 2015, d’Alpoim Guedes and Bocinsky found that foxtail and proso millet, which fell out of cultivation on the Plateau 4,000 years ago as the climate got colder, could soon be grown there again as the climate warms up.

“These millets are on the verge of becoming forgotten crops,” d’Alpoim Guedes said. “But due to their heat tolerance and high nutritional value, and very low rainfall requirements, they may once again be useful resources for a warmer future.”

With hundreds of years of anthropological data from sites around the world yet to be digitized, scientists are just beginning to tap the potential of archaeology-based modeling.

“The field is in the midst of a renaissance toward more computational approaches,” Kohler said. “Our hope is that combining traditional archaeology fieldwork with data-driven modeling techniques will help us more knowledgeably manage our numbers, our ecosystem interactions and avoid past errors regarding climate change.”

Global Warming Advocates Now Admit to ‘Cycles’ of Warming and Cooling Trends

A drought on the scale of the legendary Dust Bowl crisis of the 1930s would have similarly destructive effects on U.S. agriculture today, despite technological and agricultural advances, a new study finds. Additionally, warming temperatures could lead to crop losses at the scale of the Dust Bowl, even in normal precipitation years by the mid-21st century, University of Chicago scientists conclude.

The study was published on Dec. 12th in the science journal ‘Nature Plants’. It simulated the effect of extreme weather from the Dust Bowl era on today’s maize, soy and wheat crops. The lead authors are Michael Glotter and Joshua Elliott of the Center for Robust Decision Making on Climate and Energy Policy at the Computation Institute. “We expected to find the system much more resilient because 30 percent of production is now irrigated in the United States, and because we’ve abandoned corn production in more severely drought-stricken places such as Oklahoma and west Texas,” said Elliott, a fellow and research scientist at the center and the Computation Institute. “But we found the opposite: The system was just as sensitive to drought and heat as it was in the 1930s.”

The severe damage of the Dust Bowl was actually caused by three distinct droughts in quick succession, occurring in 1930-31, 1933-34 and 1936. From 1933 to 1939, wheat yields declined by double-digit percentages, reaching a peak loss of 32 percent in 1933. This historical warming trend had severe economic and societal consequences dramatically dropping the value of land throughout the Great Plains states and displacing millions of people.

In the eight decades since that crisis, agricultural practices have changed dramatically. But many technological and geographical shifts were intended to optimize average yield instead of resilience to severe weather, leaving many staple crops vulnerable to seasons of low precipitation and/or high temperatures. As a result, when the researchers simulated the effects of the 1936 drought upon today’s agriculture, they still observed roughly 40 percent losses in maize and soy yield, while wheat crops declined by 30 percent. The harm would be 50 percent worse than the 2012 drought, which caused nearly $100 billion of damage to the U.S. economy.

“We knew a Dust Bowl-type drought would be devastating even for modern agriculture, but we expected technological advancements to mitigate those damages much more than our results suggested,” said Glotter, a University of Chicago graduate student in geophysical sciences. “Technology has evolved to make yields as high as possible in normal years. But as extreme events become more frequent and severe, we may have to reframe how we breed crops and select for variance and resilience, not just for average yield.”

Strategies to avoid these agricultural crises and their severe ripple effects for global food security could include switching to more drought-resistant crops such as sorghum, moving wheat, soy and maize agriculture to northern U.S. states, or developing new strains of crops with higher heat tolerance. But none of these preventative efforts are cheap, and they may be impossible for developing countries to implement, the authors said.

“Cyclical warming trends is expected to alter the severity and frequency of future droughts. Understanding the interactions of weather extremes and a changing agricultural system is therefore critical to effectively prepare for and respond to the next Dust Bowl.”

BREAKING NEWS: More Signs Of Coming Pole Shift

A moving viscous flow within the Earth’s molten iron core has been discovered by scientists using the latest satellite data that helps create an ‘x-ray’ view of the planet.

Lead researcher Dr Phil Livermore, from the University of Leeds, said: “The European Space Agency’s Swarm satellites are providing our sharpest x-ray image yet of the Earth’s outer core. We’ve not only seen this moving flow clearly for the first time, but we understand why it’s there.”

“We can explain it as an accelerating band of molten iron circling the North Pole, like the moving stream in the atmosphere,” said Dr Livermore, from the School of Earth and Environment at Leeds.

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Because of the outer core’s remote location under 3,000 kilometers of rock, for many years scientists have studied the Earth’s outer and inner core by measuring the planet’s magnetic field – one of the few options available.

Previous research had found that changes in the magnetic field indicated that iron in the outer core was moving faster in the northern hemisphere, mostly under Alaska and Siberia. But new data from the Swarm satellites has revealed these changes are actually caused by a moving flow moving at more than 40 kilometers per year. This is three times faster than typical outer core speeds and hundreds of thousands of times faster than the speed at which the Earth’s tectonic plates move.

The European Space Agency’s Swarm mission features a trio of satellites which simultaneously measure and untangle the different magnetic signals which stem from Earth’s outer and inner core, mantle, crust, oceans, ionosphere and magnetosphere. They have provided the clearest information yet about the magnetic field created in the core.

The study, published today in Nature Geoscience, found the position of the moving flow aligns with a boundary between two different regions in the outer core. The jet is likely to be caused by liquid in the core moving towards this boundary from both sides, which is squeezed out sideways.

Co-author Professor Rainer Hollerbach, from the School of Mathematics at Leeds, said: “Of course, you need a force to move the liquid towards the boundary. This could be provided by buoyancy, or perhaps more likely from changes in the magnetic field within the outer core.”

Rune Floberghagen, ESA’s Swarm mission manager, said: “Further surprises are likely. The magnetic field is forever changing, and this could even make the moving flow switch direction.

“This feature is one of the first deep-Earth discoveries made possible by Swarm. With the unprecedented resolution now possible, it’s a very exciting time – we simply don’t know what we’ll discover next about our planet.”

Co-author Dr Chris Finlay, from the Technical University of Denmark said: “We know more about the Sun than the Earth’s core. The discovery of this jet is an exciting step in learning more about our planet’s inner workings.”

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Large 7.9 Quake Near Papua New Guinea Sets Off Tsunami

A powerful earthquake struck off the coast of Papua New Guinea, generating a small tsunami and knocking out power in parts of the Pacific island nation. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

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The magnitude-7.9 quake struck 46 kilometers (29 miles) east of Taron in Papua New Guinea, the U.S. Geological Survey said. The quake was deep, at 103 kilometers (61 miles). Deeper earthquakes tend to cause less damage than shallow ones.

The USGS initially said the quake’s magnitude was 8.0, but later downgraded the strength.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was a threat of a tsunami in Papua New Guinea and nearby areas. It said tsunami waves reaching 1-3 meters (yards) high were possible along the coasts of Papua New Guinea, while waves in other areas, including the Solomon Islands, would likely be less than 0.3 meter (1 foot) high.

A tsunami measuring less than 1 meter (3 feet) hit the coast of the island of New Ireland shortly after the earthquake, said Felix Taranu, seismologist with the Geophysical Observatory in the capital, Port Moresby. There were no immediate reports of damage from the tsunami or the quake, though officials were still working to contact people on the island, he said.

The quake knocked items off shelves and caused a blackout in the town of Kokopo in northeastern Papua New Guinea, Taranu said. But there were no reports of widespread damage in the town.

One Of The Most Dangerous Submarine Volcanoes On Earth

One of the most dangerous submarine volcanoes where two tectonic plates separate has been captured in more detail than ever before. A University of Washington study published this week shows how the volcano behaved during its spring 2015 eruption, revealing new clues about the behavior of volcanoes where two ocean plates are moving apart.

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“The new network allowed us to see in incredible detail where the faults are, and which were active during the eruption,” said lead author William Wilcock, a UW professor of oceanography. The new paper in Science is one of three studies published together that provide the first formal analyses of the seismic vibrations, seafloor movements and rock created during an April 2015 eruption off the Oregon coast. “We have a new understanding of the behavior of caldera dynamics that can be applied to other volcanoes all over the world.”

The studies are based on data collected by the Cabled Array, a National Science Foundation-funded project that brings electrical power and internet to the seafloor. The observatory, completed just months before the eruption, provides new tools to understand one of the test sites for understanding Earth’s volcanism.

Axial volcano has had at least three eruptions, that we know of, over the past 20 years,” said Rick Murray, director of the NSF’s Division of Ocean Sciences, which also funded the research. “Instruments used by Ocean Observatories Initiative scientists are giving us new opportunities to understand the inner workings of this volcano, and of the mechanisms that trigger volcanic eruptions in many environments.

“The information will help us predict the behavior of active volcanoes around the globe,” Murray said.

It’s a little-known fact that most of Earth’s volcanism takes place underwater. Axial Volcano rises 0.7 miles off the seafloor some 300 miles off the Pacific Northwest coast, and its peak lies about 0.85 miles below the ocean’s surface. Just as on land, we learn about ocean volcanoes by studying vibrations to see what is happening deep inside as plates separate and magma rushes up to form new crust.

The submarine location has some advantages. Typical ocean crust is just 4 miles (6 km) thick, roughly five times thinner than the crust that lies below land-based volcanoes. The magma chamber is not buried as deeply, and the hard rock of ocean crust generates crisper seismic images.

“One of the advantages we have with seafloor volcanoes is we really know very well where the magma chamber is,” Wilcock said.
“The challenge in the oceans has always been to get good observations of the eruption itself.”

All that changed when the Cabled Array was installed and instruments were turned on. Analysis of vibrations leading up to and during the event show an increasing number of small earthquakes, up to thousands a day, in the previous months. The vibrations also show strong tidal triggering, with six times as many earthquakes during low tides as high tides while the volcano approached its eruption.

Once lava emerged, movement began along a newly formed crack, or dike, that sloped downward and outward inside the 2-mile-wide by 5-mile-long caldera.

“There has been a longstanding debate among volcanologists about the orientation of ring faults beneath calderas: Do they slope toward or away from the center of the caldera?” Wilcock said. “We were able to detect small earthquakes and locate them very accurately, and see that they were active while the volcano was inflating.”

The two previous eruptions sent lava south of the volcano’s rectangular crater. This eruption produced lava to the north. The seismic analysis shows that before the eruption, the movement was on the outward-dipping ring fault. Then a new crack or dike formed, initially along the same outward-dipping fault below the eastern wall of the caldera. The outward-sloping fault has been predicted by so-called “sandbox models,” but these are the most detailed observations to confirm that they happen in nature. That crack moved southward along this plane until it hit the northern limit of the previous 2011 eruption.

“In areas that have recently erupted, the stress has been relieved,” Wilcock said. “So the crack stopped going south and then it started going north.” Seismic evidence shows the crack went north along the eastern edge of the caldera, then lava pierced the crust’s surface and erupted inside and then outside the caldera’s northeastern edge.

The dike, or crack, then stepped to the west and followed a line north of the caldera to about 9 miles (15 km) north of the volcano, with thousands of small explosions on the way.

“At the northern end there were two big eruptions and those lasted nearly a month, based on when the explosions were happening and when the magma chamber was deflating,” Wilcock said.

The activity continued throughout May, then lava stopped flowing and the seismic vibrations shut off. Within a month afterward the earthquakes dropped to just 20 per day.

The volcano has not yet started to produce more earthquakes as it gradually rebuilds toward another eruption, which typically happen every decade or so. The observatory centered on Axial Volcano is designed to operate for at least 25 years. “The cabled array offers new opportunities to study volcanism and really learn how these systems work,” Wilcock said. “This is just the beginning.”

New Study Highlights Charged Particles Role In Creating Upper Atmosphere Discharge Similar to Terrestrial Lightning

Scientists from NASA and three universities have presented new discoveries about the way heat and energy move and manifest in the ionosphere, a region of Earth’s atmosphere that reacts to changes from both space above and Earth below.

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Far above Earth’s surface, within the tenuous upper atmosphere, is a sea of particles that have been split into positive and negative ions by the Sun’s harsh ultraviolet radiation. Called the ionosphere, this is Earth’s interface to space, the area where Earth’s neutral atmosphere and terrestrial weather give way to the space environment that dominates most of the rest of the universe – an environment that hosts charged particles and a complex system of electric and magnetic fields. The ionosphere is both shaped by waves from the atmosphere below and uniquely responsive to the changing conditions in space, conveying such space weather into observable, Earth-effective phenomena creating the aurora, disrupting communications signals, and sometimes causing satellite problems.

Many of these effects are not well-understood, leaving the ionosphere, for the most part, a region of mystery. Scientists from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., the University of Colorado Boulder, and the University of California, Berkeley, presented new results on the ionosphere at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union on Dec. 14, 2016, in San Francisco.

One researcher explained how the interaction between the ionosphere and another layer in the atmosphere, the thermosphere, counteract heating in the thermosphere – heating that leads to expansion of the upper atmosphere, which can cause premature orbital decay. Another researcher described how energy outside the ionosphere accumulates until it discharges – not unlike lightning – offering an explanation for how energy from space weather crosses over into the ionosphere. A third scientist discussed two upcoming NASA missions that will provide key observations of this region, helping us better understand how the ionosphere reacts both to space weather and to terrestrial weather.

Changes in the ionosphere are primarily driven by the Sun’s activity. Though it may appear unchanging to us on the ground, our Sun is, in fact, a very dynamic, active star. Watching the Sun in ultraviolet wavelengths of light from space – above our UV light-blocking atmosphere – reveals constant activity, including bursts of light, particles, and magnetic fields.

Occasionally, the Sun releases huge clouds of particles and magnetic fields that explode out from the Sun at more than a million miles per hour. These are called coronal mass ejections, or CMEs. When a CME reaches Earth, its embedded magnetic fields can interact with Earth’s natural magnetic field – called the magnetosphere – sometimes compressing it or even causing parts of it to realign.

It is this realignment that transfers energy into Earth’s atmospheric system, by setting off a chain reaction of shifting electric and magnetic fields that can send the particles already trapped near Earth skittering in all directions. These particles can then create one of the most recognizable and awe-inspiring space weather events – the aurora, otherwise known as the Northern Lights.

But the transfer of energy into the atmosphere isn’t always so innocuous. It can also heat the upper atmosphere – where low-Earth satellites orbit – causing it to expand like a hot-air balloon.

“This swelling means there’s more stuff at higher altitudes than we would otherwise expect,” said Delores Knipp, a space scientist at the University of Colorado Boulder. “That extra stuff can drag on satellites, disrupting their orbits and making them harder to track.”

This phenomenon is called satellite drag. New research shows that this understanding of the upper atmosphere’s response to solar storms – and the resulting satellite drag – may not always hold true.

“Our basic understanding has been that geomagnetic storms put energy into the Earth system, which leads to swelling of the thermosphere, which can pull satellites down into lower orbits,” said Knipp, lead researcher on these new results. “But that isn’t always the case.”

Sometimes, the energy from solar storms can trigger a chemical reaction that produces a compound called nitric oxide in the upper atmosphere. Nitric oxide acts as a cooling agent at very high altitudes, promoting energy loss to space, so a significant increase in this compound can cause a phenomenon called overcooling.

“Overcooling causes the atmosphere to quickly shed energy from the geomagnetic storm much quicker than anticipated,” said Knipp. “It’s like the thermostat for the upper atmosphere got stuck on the ‘cool’ setting.”

That quick loss of energy counteracts the previous expansion, causing the upper atmosphere to collapse back down – sometimes to an even smaller state than it started in, leaving satellites traveling through lower-density regions than anticipated.

A new analysis by Knipp and her team classifies the types of storms that are likely to lead to this overcooling and rapid upper atmosphere collapse. By comparing over a decade of measurements from Department of Defense satellites and NASA’s Thermosphere, Ionosphere, Mesosphere Energetics and Dynamics, or TIMED, mission, the researchers were able to spot patterns in energy moving throughout the upper atmosphere.

“Overcooling is most likely to happen when very fast and magnetically-organized ejecta from the Sun rattle Earth’s magnetic field,” said Knipp. “Slow clouds or poorly-organized clouds just don’t have the same effect.”

This means that, counterintuitively, the most energetic solar storms are likely to provide a net cooling and shrinking effect on the upper atmosphere, rather than heating and expanding it as had been previously understood.

Competing with this cooling process is the heating that caused by solar storm energy making its way into Earth’s atmosphere. Though scientists have known that solar wind energy eventually reaches the ionosphere, they have understood little about where, when and how this transfer takes place. New observations show that the process is localized and impulsive, and partly dependent on the state of the ionosphere itself.

Traditionally, scientists have thought that the way energy moves throughout Earth’s magnetosphere and atmosphere is determined by the characteristics of the incoming particles and magnetic fields of the solar wind – for instance, a long, steady stream of solar particles would produce different effects than a faster, less consistent stream. However, new data shows that the way energy moves is much more closely tied to the mechanisms by which the magnetosphere and ionosphere are linked.

“The energy transfer process turns out to be very similar to the way lightning forms during a thunderstorm,” said Bob Robinson, a space scientist at NASA Goddard and the Catholic University of America.

During a thunderstorm, a buildup of electric potential difference – called voltage – between a cloud and the ground leads to a sudden, violent discharge of that electric energy in the form of lightning. This discharge can only happen if there’s an electrically conducting pathway between the cloud and the ground, called a leader.

Similarly, the solar wind striking the magnetosphere can build up a voltage difference between different regions of the ionosphere and the magnetosphere. Electric currents can form between these regions, creating the conducting pathway needed for that built-up electric energy to discharge into the ionosphere as a kind of lightning.

“Terrestrial lightning takes several milliseconds to occur, while this magnetosphere-ionosphere ‘lightning’ lasts for several hours – and the amount of energy transferred is hundreds to thousands of times greater,” said Robinson, lead researcher on these new results. These results are based on data from the global Iridium satellite communications constellation.

Because solar storms enhance the electric currents that let this magnetosphere-ionosphere lightning take place, this type of energy transfer is much more likely when Earth’s magnetic field is jostled by a solar event.

The huge energy transfer from this magnetosphere-ionosphere lightning is associated with heating of the ionosphere and upper atmosphere, as well as increased aurora.

Looking Forward

Though scientists are making progress in understanding the key processes that drive changes in the ionosphere and, in turn, on Earth, there is still much to be understood. In 2017, NASA is launching two missions to investigate this dynamic region: the Ionospheric Connection Explorer, or ICON, and Global Observations of the Limb and Disk, or GOLD.

“The ionosphere doesn’t only react to energy input by solar storms,” said Scott England, a space scientist at the University of California, Berkeley, who works on both the ICON and GOLD missions. “Terrestrial weather, like hurricanes and wind patterns, can shape the atmosphere and ionosphere, changing how they react to space weather.”

ICON will simultaneously measure the characteristics of charged particles in the ionosphere and neutral particles in the atmosphere – including those shaped by terrestrial weather – to understand how they interact. GOLD will take many of the same measurements, but from geostationary orbit, which gives a global view of how the ionosphere changes.

Both ICON and GOLD will take advantage of a phenomenon called airglow – the light emitted by gas that is excited or ionized by solar radiation – to study the ionosphere. By measuring the light from airglow, scientists can track the changing composition, density, and even temperature of particles in the ionosphere and neutral atmosphere.

ICON’s position 350 miles above Earth will enable it to study the atmosphere in profile, giving scientists an unprecedented look at the state of the ionosphere at a range of altitudes. Meanwhile, GOLD’s position 22,000 miles above Earth will give it the chance to track changes in the ionosphere as they move across the globe, similar to how a weather satellite tracks a storm.

“We will be using these two missions together to understand how dynamic weather systems are reflected in the upper atmosphere, and how these changes impact the ionosphere,” said England.