A buildup of intensely tangled magnetic energy on the Sun suddenly let go two days ago, unleashing a massive explosion of radiation and super-hot plasma.
The radiation explosion was the most powerful solar flare of 2016 so far.
You can watch all the action close up in the video above, based on data from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft, or SDO.
When the video starts, keep your eye on the bright active region toward the middle of the frame. It’s seething with energy. Above and around it, glowing, electrified plasma flows along curved lines of magnetic field, creating huge structures known as coronal loops.
And then there is an extremely intense bright flash — the solar flare. This is a sudden blast of radiation traveling at the speed of light.
The flare is accompanied by a titanic splurt (technical term) of solar material called a coronal mass ejection, or CME.
An analogy (albeit imperfect) is a blast from a cannon. The bright flash from the muzzle is akin to the solar flare, and the artillery shell exploding out of the barrel of the cannon is like the CME.
Here’s a view in the extreme ultraviolet part of the electromagnetic spectrum (94 Angstroms): Read More
With temperatures up to 97 degrees, humidity down at just 10 percent, and winds gusting as high as 30 miles per hour, the weather forecast today is not what firefighters battling the Sand Fire near Los Angeles might have hoped for.
As the graphic above from the National Weather Service in L.A. shows, extremely dangerous fire behavior is in the offing today.
Make sure to click on the link above to watch one of the most amazing time-lapse animations I’ve ever seen. It shows the Sand Fire blazing at night in the hills outside of Santa Clarita.
The fire has doubled in size to 22,000 acres over the past 24 hours, and it is just 10 percent contained, according to the Incident Information System (InciWeb). More than 1,673 firefighters are battling the blaze. Their resources include 122 fire engines, 15 helicopters and eight bulldozers. (For a map of the blaze as of Sunday morning, click on the thumbnail image at right.)
Fifteen homes have been evacuated. Unfortunately, 18 have been destroyed so far. There is also a report of a scorched body of a deceased man being found in a car sitting in the driveway of a home in Santa Clarita. The cause of death has not yet been confirmed.
Here’s what the fire looked like from space yesterday, as viewed by the GOES-West weather satellite: Read More
Update: As of Sunday morning, 7/24, the Sand Fire north of Los Angeles has scorched approximately 22,000 acres, a doubling in size since yesterday; it is just 10 percent contained. The Soberanes Fire on the California coast near Carmel has grown to 10,262 acres, up from 6,500 acres yesterday. It’s just 5 percent contained.
Hot, dry and windy weather is fanning the flames of two California wildfires this evening, one just north of Los Angeles and the other near Carmel.
The Sand Fire north of Los Angeles in the Santa Clarita area, seen in the animation above, has consumed at least 11,000 acres. That number will almost certainly grow in the coming hours.
Earlier today I posted an astonishing timelaspe video of the Sand Fire, shot last night by Mo Sabawi. Check it out here:
Nearly a thousand people, 70 fire engines, nine helicopters, 36 hand crews, and five bulldozers, have been laboring in high temperatures to try to contain that blaze, which as I’m writing this on Saturday evening (July 23) is only 10 percent contained, according to the most recent report from InciWeb. Read More
The Sand Fire started yesterday at about 2 p.m. near Santa Clarita, California and has since exploded to 11,000 acres in hot and dry conditions, according to the latest report on InciWeb.
Once some imagery of the area from the Terra and Aqua satellites is available, my plan now is to come back later with a new, more detailed post. For now, check out this absolutely stunning timelapse video of the blaze shot last night by Mo Sabawi and posted to his Youtube channel. (Find him on Twitter here: @MoBawi24)
Also, have a look at this video, posted to Twitter, of a water drop over the blaze last night by a Los Angeles County Fire Department Firehawk helicopter: Read More
The Deep Space Climate Observatory spacecraft hovers between the Earth and Sun, keeping a constant eye on our planet’s sunlit side from about a million miles away.
Yet even from that extremely distant vantage point (called Lagrange Point 1), DSCOVR’S camera was able to discern a broad blanket of smoke from wildfires raging in Siberia.
Look for the smoke within the circled area in the image above, acquired by the EPIC camera on July 21, 2016. Click the image to open it in a new window, and then click on it again for a close up view. The smoke is clearly visible.
Despite all the smoke, the Russian government says burning in not terribly extensive. On July 18th, it reported that 77 fires were burning on 45 square miles of territory, an area smaller than Washington D.C. For the year to date, the government says 2,583 square miles have burned.
But Grigory Kuksin of Greenpeace Russia, quoted in a story in Phys.Org, says the government is playing down the extent of the burning. By his accounting, 27,027 square miles have burned so far this year — an area larger than West Virginia.
It’s difficult to know what the precise number is. But given the extensive smoke blanket — which stretches across at least 2,000 miles of Siberia from west to east — I’m guessing that the figure is closer to the estimate from Greenpeace. Read More
The Atlantic hurricane season started with a bang, but since then? Nada.
This despite a huge amount of oceanic heat available to feed these meteorological beasts, as the animation at right shows. (Click to expand it.)
The first hurricane this year, Alex, swirled in the North Atlantic in mid January. That was shockingly early: Since record keeping began, only two other hurricanes are known to have formed in the Atlantic during January, according to Weather Underground’s Bob Henson.
Following Alex, there have been three other named storms. The last one was Tropical Storm Danielle, which dissipated on June 21.
The broadest picture of the dearth of Atlantic hurricanes since then looks like this:
When tropical cyclone activity is high in the Pacific — as it has been recently — things tend to remain calm in the Atlantic. That’s because the rising air that occurs over the eastern Pacific’s stormy areas results in sinking air over the Atlantic. And sinking air is very unfriendly to Atlantic hurricanes.
Beyond that, several factors associated with a phenomenon known as the Saharan Air Layer, or SAL, also inhibit formation of Atlantic hurricanes. Read More
This past month nudged out June 2015 as the warmest on record, according to data just released by NASA.
That makes the first six months of 2016 the warmest first half of any year since 1880. June’s record warmth also means we’ve experienced nine months in a row of record setting temperatures.
A separate analysis released today by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also shows that the first half of 2016 was the warmest.
By NASA’s reckoning, the first half of 2015 was previously the warmest such period on record. “But 2016 has blown that out of the water,” said Gavin Schmidt, head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, at an online briefing today.
Given the torrid start to the year, 2016 is very likely to finish as the warmest year on record. Read More
After months of record-setting warmth culminating in extremely high temperatures last week, much of Alaska was primed for wildfire.
Things had been quiet until then, despite the warmest January through June period in Alaska since 1895.
Then the lightning came — with a sudden vengeance: some 45,570 strikes between July 13 and 16th.
The result: Flames finally exploded through Alaskan landscapes, with 114 new wildfires resulting in a more-than-100,000-acre increase in the total number of acres burned in Alaska this season, according to the Alaska Division of Forestry.
During one day last week, the acreage burned was one-third of the total that has burned during the entire season. As of July 16th, 481 wildfires had burned 299,632 acres of Alaska. Read More
The image above is the Juno spacecraft’s first view of Jupiter and some of its moons after it entered orbit around the gas giant on July 4th.
Published by NASA on July 12, it consists of data acquired by the JunoCam when the spacecraft was 2.7 million miles from Jupiter.
Juno was heading away from the planet on its first 53.5-day “capture orbit” — the beginning of its orbital mission. On Oct. 19, the spacecraft will execute its final engine burn of the mission, placing Juno into a 14-day orbit and marking the start of the primary science mission.
A few days ago, I posted a video showing a gigantic hole in the Sun’s atmosphere. Now, NASA has published an animation showing the Sun spinning end over end like a pinwheel.
What’s going on?
For a detailed explanation of the hole in the Sun, go here:
And now, what’s up with the pinwheeling Sun? Read More