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Earth raises a plasma shield to battle solar storms

Earth raises a plasma shield to battle solar storms 86

By Lisa Grossman  | NewScientist

Earth can raise shields to protect itself against solar storms.

For the first time, satellites and ground-based detectors have watched as the planet sends out a tendril of plasma to fight off blasts of charged solar matter. The discovery confirms a long-standing theory about Earth’s magnetic surroundings and offers us a way to keep track of the planet’s defences.

“It’s changed our thinking about how the system operates,” says Joe Borovsky at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado, who was not involved in the research. “Earth doesn’t just sit there and take whatever the solar wind gives it, it can actually fight back.”

Earth is always surrounded by a bubble of magnetism called the magnetosphere, which protects us from the bulk of the solar wind, a stream of high-energy particles constantly flowing from the sun.

But sometimes, the sun’s magnetic field lines can directly link up with Earth’s in a process called magnetic reconnection, which opens up cracks in the magnetosphere. Charged particles can flow along these lines into Earth’s atmosphere, leading to dazzling auroras as well as geomagnetic storms that can wreak havoc on navigation systems and power grids.

Shields up!

Gas in Earth’s upper atmosphere is ionised by ultraviolet light from the sun, and the resulting plasma becomes trapped by magnetic fields in a doughnut-shaped ring around the planet. Previous observations of this plasmasphere showed that plumes sometimes emerge from this region.

Theory had suggested that an extra-strong electric field from the sun can rip plasma away from the plasmasphere during reconnection, triggering a plume. If this plume reaches the boundary between the earthly and solar magnetic fields, it would create a buffer zone of dense material. This would make it harder for magnetic field lines to meet up and spark further reconnection.

But while ground-based measurements can see a plume forming, their resolution isn’t good enough to tell for sure whether the material reaches the magnetic boundary.

Brian Walsh at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and his colleagues have now clinched it. In January 2013, GPS sensors on the ground mapped electrons in the upper atmosphere and saw a tendril of increased electron density curling away from the north pole, indicating that a plume of plasma was veering off towards the sun.

Ground truth

At the same time, three of NASA’s THEMIS spacecraft, which are designed to study solar storms, crossed through the magnetic boundary during the event. The craft saw a 100-fold increase in the number of electrons at the boundary, which would probably have been deposited by the plume.

[…]

Read the full article at: newscientist.com

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Planet Earth

Polar vortex: “wild” winter is coming in the US, Northern Europe and East Asia after the 16th of January

Polar vortex: "wild" winter is coming in the US, Northern Europe and East Asia after the 16th of January 99

In the upper atmosphere above the North Pole, experts saw a rapidly swirling vortex of cold air that could bring severe frosts to the United States, Northern Europe and East Asia. Serious cold snap and snowy weather are expected after January the 16th.

Snowfalls and a cold snap hit South Korea since the start of 2021, hitting historic snow maximums and temperatures. In the country, for the first time since 1964, television and newer communications are sending people cold snap warnings:

The situation is similar in Japan, where a new snow storm hit historic highs:

On January 7, the thermometer In Beijing dropped to -20 degrees Celsius, breaking the 1966 record. In other regions of China, the temperature is also not sugar, and you can only move around in special uniforms:

The cold even reached Taiwan, where the temperature in some areas dropped below freezing point, snow poured down and people realized that rice terraces can be used as a ski jump:

Even more snow went to Spain, where on January 6, 2021, a temperature of -34.1 ° C was recorded – the lowest on record. After that, a snow storm hit the country, which has not been seen for 80 years:

The same thing happens in Canada and in the northern states of the United States:

It seems that after a stratospheric warming, the subpolar vortex began to split:

The vortex itself is a standard phenomenon. However, this time experts were surprised at his movement. It is possible that in the near future it will be divided into two parts. 

Scientists associate the strange behavior with the changed climate in the Arctic, which has become warmer. From September to December, the amount of ice cover decreased significantly.

The polar vortex is a low-pressure region located in the stratosphere and filled with cold air. When the jet stream of air that holds the vortex weakens, the low pressure area moves south. 

As the ice shrinks, more moisture will move inland. It will turn to snow, so snowfalls are expected. Snow, in turn, reflects heat, leading to a cold snap.

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Planet Earth

Hospital in Naples was evacuated after a new, huge sinkhole appeared

Hospital in Naples was evacuated after a new, huge sinkhole appeared 100

Eyewitnesses said they heard a loud crash at dawn when a huge hole in the ground formed outside the Ponticelli Ospedale del Mare hospital in eastern Naples.

Early in the morning of January 8, 2021, a sinkhole occurred in the parking lot of a clinic in Naples. The depth of the formed cavity is about 20 meters, the total area of ​​the hole is about 2,000 square meters.

No casualties were found at the scene; firefighters say the sinkhole “affected an area of ​​about 500 square meters” and engulfed several cars parked near the hospital.

As the press writes and as a little can be seen from the videos, rescuers and firefighters were running around the pit together with the governor of the area.  But who should be there in the forefront are Italian geologists, since Naples stands in the very center of the volcanic system known as the Phlegrean Fields.

If the surface collapsed, moreover – the surface reinforced with concrete and reinforced from below with some kind of communications, then we are talking about serious soil deformations caused by the activity of magma.

Italy has been in doubt since the summer of 2020, because swarms were observed there in very atypical places in May, and according to the forecasts of old Italian seismologists, who had witnessed many strong earthquakes, it should have boomed in the August region.

Fortunately, nothing bad happened to Italy and there was no big earthquake. But, since there are swarms, it means that something is being prepared, the magma is gathering strength. 

Following this particular sinkhole event – an obvious sign that a major earthquake in Italy is already very close.

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Planet Earth

A new great pandemic cycle has begun (again) in China

A new great pandemic cycle has begun (again) in China 101

In the first months of 2020, the whole world with a certain fright followed the events unfolding in China, where people fell on the streets during the day and astronauts wandered, and in the evening crematoria began to smoke. And now, with the onset of December, the cycle seems to be repeating itself.

Shunyi area in Beijing, where the authorities announced “wartime status” the day before. As you can see in the videos, thousands of people are lined up in the queue for mandatory testing:

Dalian city, where “wartime” is also declared. Neighborhoods are blockaded, people are walled up in entrances, familiar characters of George Lucas roam the streets:

https://twitter.com/UndergroundSilk/status/1341741036297723905?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Chinese ‘rescuers’, before performing a combat mission:

Chengdu City:

Daluo Port, Yunnan – tourists came for adventure and they received the ‘time of their life’ after leaving the ramp:

If something happens in Beijing, it does not mean that tomorrow the same will happen everywhere. However, the trend towards such dynamics is observed and, as the practice of the first wave of the pandemic has shown, all countries and people, to one degree or another, have taken into account the ‘Chinese experience’. 

Therefore, one must think that everything will now be in peace, as in spring – a new global round of the fight against the Covid has begun in China, a new great pandemic cycle!

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