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1 Climate Change some astrophysical perspectives.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Climate Change some astrophysical perspectives."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Climate Change some astrophysical perspectives

2 Earths Changing Orbit Earths axis precesses Period = 26,000 yr Earths axis becomes more or less tilted Period = 40,000 yr Earths orbit becomes more or less elliptical Period = 100,000 yr 2 Were not certain how to combine the cycles, but there seems to be a tie between the combination and the regular cycle of hot and cool periods

3 Milankovitch Cycles 3 Sedimentary layers in Welsh coast show variations every ~100,000 yr (from about 300 million years ago)

4 4 Sunspots Cooler regions in Suns photosphere still bright, but look dark by contrast! Huge plasma storms on Suns surface. Regions of intense magnetic fields.

5 5 The Suns Magnetic Field Magnetic fields apply a force on charged particles that pushes them along the direction of the field lines. The charged particles in the ionized gas also push back on the magnetic field, altering its shape. Magnetic fields appear to play an important role in the storms we see on the Suns surface.

6 6 Sunspot Structure The strong magnetic field should push the sunspot apart. Like a storm on Earth, the cool region draws in gas, which drags along magnetic field. The strong, tangled magnetic field blocks gas from rising from below

7 7 Solar Prominences Hot plasma can be ejected along the magnetic fields where they are strong.

8 8 Prominence The plasma moves along the magnetic field lines, and may get ejected into space (coronal mass ejection)

9 9 Solar Flares In regions of strong magnetic fields, sudden bursts of energy, sending out a pulse of energy and a spray of hot gas.

10 10 Solar Wind Plasma from Sun interacts with Earths magnetic field to produce Aurora

11 11 The Solar Cycle The number of sunspots goes up and down about once every 11 years on average. After each sunspot maximum, the Suns magnetic field reverses. Understanding the Sun may help us understand the Earths magnetic field.

12 12 Magnetic Reversals Geologists find that the Earths magnetic field reverses once every ~250,000 years based on the magnetic field frozen in volcanic flows. We are overdue for a reversalits been 800,000 years since the last reversal! Since 1900 Earths magnetic field is ~10% weaker and has shifted position by ~10˚ During the time when Earths field reverses, we will not be well protected from cosmic rays. Cosmic rays may affect climate (cloud nuclei)

13 13 Long Term Changes in the Sun You might think that the Sun is darker when it has more sunspots, but when it is more active it generates more power overall. This appears to affect Earths climate. In the 1600s there was a period with very few sunspotsand a little ice age on Earth.

14 14 Longer Term Changes in the Sun Occasional records piece together longer term changes in the Suns energy output. Can also look at trace isotopes carried to Earth by the Solar Wind. In medieval times the Sun was more luminous and Greenland was green!

15 15 The Suns Life History

16 16 Very Long Term Changes of the Sun The Sun is about mid-way through its main hydrogen fusion phase, and will last another 5-6 billion years. Studies of other stars and computer models indicate stars grow steadily more luminous throughout this phase The Sun was only ~½ as luminous when it was born, and will be ~2 times more luminous in 5 billion years. In just 100 million years, it should be so luminous that Earth will undergo runaway greenhouse (like Venus) …but why then is Earth relatively cool now?

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