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NAMAZU, GIANT JAPANESE CATFISH AND FORMER DEMIGOD IN CHARGE OF COASTAL STORMS AND EARTH QUAKES, NOW DEAN OF THE NAMAZU SCHOOL OF CLIMATOLOGY
Editor's note: We first published this post 2 years ago. The planet has moved a bit farther out of the Exoatmosphere and winter is coming. We are expecting colder than recent past winters other than on the East Coast for quite some time now due to solar flare activity and the surface temperature inversion in the Atlantic of two years ago. The effects of the Solar flare activity of last year should wear off completely by 2020, but the effects of an Atlantic surface temperature inversion usually last 20 to 30 years. In any year the effects of a strong El Nino could cancel the effects of the solar flare activity and Atlantic surface temperature inversion in some places. But no one really knows how moving out of the relatively dense Exoatmosphere will affect weather or climate.The planet is changing neighborhoods and it hasn't done that in millions of years. Even Namazu with 3,000 years of weather observation admits to being a bit puzzled.
In the past when we have discussed the various natural causes of climate change, including sudden and dramatic climate change, we have mentioned besides such earthly causes as ocean current changes and volcanic activity; changes that happen in space. These changes may include such factors as change in the shape of the Earth's orbit, it's angle of inclination on its axis, solar flares and similar solar phenomena. We have not mentioned previously that the entire solar system is moving slowly through space. The planets and other content of the solar system are not all just spinning around the sun in place for millenniums, we are not only moving around the sun and in circles relative to each other, the entire solar system is moving slowly through space. In the AAB series "SPACE AS AN OCEAN" the authors did bring up the idea that Space isn't just , well, empty space, though in a practical sense it isn't very dense with stuff between planets and stars.
As it turns out for quite some time now we have been moving through a rather gassy area of space. The gases are no where near as dense as even a thin atmosphere as found clinging to planets, but it is there in detectable amounts with modern technology. Scientists call the region of space that we have been traveling through for the past few million years "the Local Interstellar Cloud". For the purpose of our discussion here I've coined the term the "Exoatmosphere" to underscore the idea that this is gas beyond the atmosphere. Thin and wispy to a point of being virtually, but not quite actually nothingness. None the less, we can detect the stuff of the "Exoatmosphere or "Local Interstellar Cloud" and determine its relative "flow" direction and velocity. There is no doubt that this Exoatmosphere can have a dramatic effect on the weather in the Earth's atmosphere, and climate is simply average weather over protracted periods.
Well as my sailor buddies at the AAB say; "stand by for heavy rolls". Our planet's long standing relationship with the Exoatmosphere may be about to change. Astronomer David McComas of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas believes there has been a shift in direction of the helium atoms that flow into the solar system. Think of this flow of helium atoms as a sort of measure of a more complex flow of atoms that we call the "interstellar wind". According to McComas if the direction change continues for hundreds to thousands of years (something that no one can predict or determine with any accuracy at the moment) our solar system could be in for some big time change. This change in direction could signal a change in the heliosphere , a really big bubble of charged particles blown out by the sun in the solar wind that protects the solar system from harmful cosmic rays. The size, shape and effectiveness of the heliosphere is shaped by the balance between the outward push of the solar wind and the inward pressure from gas in the Exoatmosphere or Local Interstellar Cloud, otherwise called by real science guys "the interstellar wind."
As measured so far the perceived change in direction is small roughly about 6 degrees over the last 40 years (I'm not sure that before that we could measure these things). However if the flow continues in this direction the general current flow could shift to the other side of the heliosphere (what I have been calling the Exoatmosphere in this discussion) and distort its shape letting in more harmful cosmic rays that negatively impact life on earth. Now we all know that forests produce oxygen and reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere but fewer people realize that microscopic phytoplankton is the bigger photosynthetic oxygen system on the planet. These microscopic floating plants are probably much more sensitive to these cosmic rays than a sequoia. We could be in big trouble in the future (but probably not your life time) in terms of the oxygen content of the atmosphere. Now there is a climate change! The more likely result may be a massive die off of the less cosmic ray resistant forms of life most importantly certain species of phytoplankton and an increase in the cosmic ray resistant variety with a lot of ecological instability during the transition. Climates change, its what they do , so does life. All states of apparent relative equilibrium are temporary, even if they last millions of years. Life forms including us who may be caught mid life cycle in one of these dramatic changes suffer.
We can't do a single thing about these potential causes of mega climate change. But we can do something about the results of such events. We now know that climates change and can change rapidly and drastically and we can't do anything about these planetary or cosmic change agents. We also know that the type of climate change that Al Gore talks about, if actually happening (a big if given the actual science) is beyond our ability to change due to global politics. The United States which never signed the Kyoto Accords continues to reduce green house gas emissions while others that did sign increase their production and continue to point their fingers at the United States. So it is pointless to worry about the various causes of climate change. Change will eventually come regardless. It is time to do something about managing the negative consequences and protecting our large population centers. We can change building codes, flood protection systems, and food production/transportation systems to anticipate and compensate of such change when , not if it comes. These are the facts Jack