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The Environment, our Earth’s Lost Frontier?

22 Apr

 

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(On the left horizon, hydrocarbons are being released into the air, blemishes an otherwise clear arctic day.)

Multimedia eLearning by: David A. Johanson © All Rights

All Roads Lead to Nowhere

Early in my career as a photographer I received assignments which took me above the Arctic Circle. Construction companies and architects working for oil companies in Alaska’s North Slope hired me to photograph their on going developments. At that time the Prudhoe Bay oil field’s production had peaked due to years of sustained extraction. A new oil field near the Kurparuk River, west of Prudhoe Bay was the site I was sent to. The Kuparuk oil field is the second largest oil field in North America by area, and traveling by aircraft was the way I moved from site to site.

Roads and construction sites above the arctic circle, rely on heaps of gravel placed over the tundra’s surface to prevent them from sinking into the earth when the ground thaws. Traveling less than 100 feet off the tundra, at 150 miles per hour, the pilot of the Hughes 500D helicopter races to horizon. The orange shelters at the edge of the road, is our intended destination. These metallic enclosures are used to pump hot steam down-into the wells, for recovering a thick slurry of oil, locked deep below the frozen tundra.

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Environmental stock photography for a New Dawn.

Alaska, the Last Frontier  

Flying above an older oil facility, it can clearly be seen — the years of oil production have left Rorschach-like-ink-blots, splattered on the surrounding tundra. I have not been to the oil fields for many years, but I was told at the time — ‘oil companies were trying to cleaning up their act, while leaving a smaller footprint.’ I pray what I heard was true, but as we know — accidents both large and small continue to happen.

On a clear day while flying above vast stretches of tundra, we spotted a small monument, which marked where Will Rogers and Wiley Post had been killed in a plane crash. I spotted dozens of randomly placed metallic cylinders near the site. My bush pilot brought the airplane down for a closer look and cynically said, those are abandoned, empty 50 gallon oil barrels… known as —“Alaska’s state flower.

 Environmental stock photography for a New Dawn.

An old barn in the shadow of Anacortes oil refinery.
There’s something charming about old barns as they weather over the years. This one with its organic wood earth tones, is contrasted against the metallic cylinders of an oil refinery in Anacortes, about 70 miles north of Seattle, on the edge of Puget Sound. On April 2, 2010 five workers were killed at this oil refinery as an explosion and fire ripped through part of the refinery.

EARTH Day seems to have more meaning as the impact of global warming, seismic and volcanic activity focuses our attention on the big picture.

Environmental stock photography for a New Dawn.

Our world is delicately balanced, spinning through space, with us all aboard along for the journey. At least one day, one week, out of a busy calendar year, we’re asked to give homage to our planet by being aware of its’ environment. In honor of this day, I’m sending out photographs and prose that reflect current events affecting our world’s environment.

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Earth Day 2010

“One World, One Planet.”
A fascinating, outdoor setting, with an incredibly diverse ecosystems is the Rainforest of the Olympic National Forest. It was a late summer day when I hiked down form Lake Osset, to where the rainforest meets the Pacific Ocean. This area has never been logged, the old growth forest here stands as it has for thousands of years.

After setting up a tent I walked along a trail leading to a lush meadow. A twig snapped a few feet away from me, revealing two unusual looking deer, grassing in the tall grass. Never have I encountered wildlife, where if I desired, could reach out and touch it. The deer could plainly see me; yet they made no effort to scramble away or even conceal themselves. The reason this wildlife seems tame is that they reside within a remote National park, where no hunting is allowed.  Slowly, I raised my camera loaded with my favorite Kodachrome transparency film. As I began to take a series of photos, I noticed unusual patterned markings on the deer’s body.  Refocusing my lens, amazingly, what appeared was a map of the earth, patterned on the deer. Last year I scanned the transparency, then enhancing it with Photoshop, the world continents clearly revealed themselves in what I’ve themed
– “One Planet, One World.”

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Have you ever gone back to a place and found what you had once treasured was missing? The longing for beauty, which once was, is a reoccurring theme used to select many photos in this essay.

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Earth Day 2010

“Paradise Lost” –
The enchanting scene with a man gazing into the pools of water is from Whatcom Falls. My college roommate sitting on the moss-covered boulders is Mark Nishimura, a fine-art photographer, originally from the state of Hawaii. Mark asked that I photograph him in a place that was reminiscent of the waterfalls back home on Ohau. I used a Hasselblad and slow speed transparency film to help capture the dynamic range of shadows and highlights. This was one of my favorite places to photograph when I attended school at Western Washington University, in Bellingham. Many students would spend summer afternoons cooling off, diving and swimming amongst the deep pools of water. A short walk into Whatcom Park, placed you in a lush environment, under a thick canopy of evergreen trees, moss-covered vegetation with sounds of cascading waterfalls running throughout it.  Environmental Photography

Some years after this photo was taken, tragedy struck, instantly incinerating this charming environment. A refinery’s 16-inch fuel-line running next to the park, ruptured, spewing nearly 300 thousand gallons of gasoline into the creek. In an instant, the fuel ignited, creating a river of fire, which killed three youths fishing in the creek and sending a toxic vapor cloud six miles into the atmosphere. The fireball and plume of smoke was visible from Anacortes to Vancouver, B.C., Canada.  Now, ten years after the catastrophe, I plan to return to the falls and photograph the site with hopes that nature’s healing process is transforming it back to the way it use to be.

Environmental Photography

Environmental Photography

Environmental Photography

Earth Day 2014

“Paradise Found” –
I remember a photography teacher I had in college took us to a beach near Chukanut Drive. When he gave out the assignment, most of the class groaned; we were to pick a spot on the beach, stay within a 25-foot diameter and shoot a series of photos to tell a story. Most of us wanted to take our cameras and explore what the entire beach had to offer. Surprisingly, it was one of the best assignments I was ever given in school; because it broke the stereotype about how you were suppose to see. Within that small domain we discovered, a whole universe was waiting to reveal itself before the camera lens. That photography lesson has stuck with me since, although world travel is a passion, I realize that I really didn’t have to go any farther than my backyard to find great images and no matter what, if resourceful, amazing subjects can be found everywhere.

My home’s back yard is like an outdoor studio full of indigenous plants, birds and amphibians. We avoid using pesticides and only use natural fertilizers on the yard and garden. One afternoon I found this charming tree frog sitting on a leaf, warming itself in the sunshine. With a macro lens on my camera, I was able to get within inches of the frog and let the background merge into soft abstract forms. The photo makes me smile whenever I see it because it reminds me, I never have to go far to reconnect with nature.

Environmental Photography

On a moonlit night, traveling the back-roads of Washington and Oregon —
we found countless sentinels standing guard against the cold breeze of darkening skies.

Environmental Photography                  

The Future is Now…
Working tirelessly with the wind, turbines spin against the moon backdrop, producing ‘clean energy’ for the Pacific Northwest. Throughout the Americas and many other places in the world, the tide is turning as we move more towards wind and solar for a clean, renewable energy source.

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Web Links For Earth Day 

http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/local/illinois&id=9511926

http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2014/04/22/tri-state-area-commemorating-earth-day-with-series-of-events/

http://www.earthday.org

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/04/140421-earth-day-2014-facts-environment-epa/

http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2014/04/22/earth_day_2014_a_few_fun_facts_about_our_planet.html

 

 

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THE MARTIAN PROPHECIES: Earth’s Conquest Of The Red Planet

12 Mar

Mars Frontier series

Early Mars terraforming site inspected by an American first-generation colonist.
Essay, eLearning program, and multimedia content by: David Anthony Johanson © All writing and photography within this program (unless indicated) was produced by the author.
If you would like to see this essay in an alternative graphic format please visit our Science Tech Tablet site at: http://bigpictureone.wordpress.com/2014/03/04/the-martian-prophecies-earths-conquest-of-the-red-planet/
Fu-tur-ism                                                                                                                               noun
1. Concern with events and trends of the future or which anticipate the future.
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. — Arthur C. Clarke
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How Earth Conquered Mars And Successfully Colonized The Red Planet
March 2054

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The Evolutionary Mastery Of Mars
In a forty-year period, the march towards making Mars inhabitable, astonished the most optimistic futurist. A sequence of technological events and economic opportunities (commonly known as the Third Industrial Revolution) converged seamlessly, allowing for safe and efficient journeys to the fourth planet from our Sun. Now, human life has sustained itself and is beginning to thrive on Martian soil.
On Earth, three decades into the third millennium, unstable global weather patterns caused by environmental abuse to our oceans, created extreme ripple effects with appalling famines and droughts. Then, suddenly a horrific rain of fire appeared as a sequence of catastrophic meteorite strikes plagued Earth— hastening humanity’s efforts to reach for the red planet. Of all the planets in our solar system — Mars has proven the best hope as a lifeboat and as a refuge for life taking hold.
Collaboration from the World’s nations, aligned rapidly to expand the colonies beyond Earth’s low-orbit. These outposts are in a stable formation at Sun-Earth Lagrangian Points:  L2, L4,  L5 and beyond. The various sites are used to support manufacturing, exploration and asteroid mining operations. Once established, they became “stepping-stones” towards Mars. Distant supply and launch stations are currently expanding at Sun-Mars Lagrangian points, circulating Mars.

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Triumph Through Large Scale Asteroid Mining 
After the first three decades of daring space exploration in the late Twentieth Century, momentum was lost from lack of compelling mission. Chemical propulsion system limitations and lack of aerospace manufacturing beyond Earth’s orbit, slowed space exploration’s progress. Major superpowers lacked funding and political will to achieve great advances beyond low Earth Orbit.
As the Twenty-First Century progressed, collaboration of prime aerospace companies Boeing and Space X, developed, hybrid launch vehicles to accelerate humanity’s expanded presence in space. Private commercial ventures determined a great potential existed for mining valuable resources from near Earth asteroids and the Moon. The first company to successfully begin asteroid mining were Planetary Resources, with funding provided by wealthy technology luminaries.

Mars Frontier series

 

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Three-D Printing In Space – A Bridge To Infinity 
Early in the Twenty-first Century, new advanced technological tools were developed for flexible and efficient manufacturing. After revolutionary 3-D printing operations took hold in space, opportunities expanded rapidly to develop massive infrastructure beyond Earth’s orbit. Three-D printing devices made prefabrication of immense living and working sites possible on the Moon and various stationary points well beyond Earth’s gravitational influence.

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Three-D printing for manufacturing space-station stepping-stones
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Beyond Earth’s Orbit — Islands In Space
As the population of human enterprises rapidly expanded into deep space, exploration of Mars became practical and irresistible.
Using a spectrum of cybernetic applications, including artificial intelligences (AI), atomically precise manufacturing (APM) and 3-D printing provided cost-effective infrastructure manufacturing  to expand beyond Earth’s low orbit. The network of space station developments offers a growing population of skilled aerospace workers — dynamic living and work environments.
Molecular nanotechnology (MNT) produces an endless variety of manufactured goods for the inhabitants of interplanetary space. As the initial space stations quickly expanded and connected to one another, they became known as “Island Stations.” Adopting interplanetary codes for infrastructure support commonality is maintained for all inhabitants and guest visits by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and European Space Agency (ESA).
A network of stepping stone islands, which initially were used to extend the reach of asteroid mining operations from stable points beyond a low Earth orbit, is essential for colonizing Mars.

Mars Frontier series

Approximately 10 million miles from Earth, a network of station islands is positioned as a gateway point to Mars. These station networks are mutually protected from solar storms/flares by their own artificial magnetosphere. Earth (blue dot) and its moon can be seen near the upper-center part of the photo.

Mars Frontier series

Revolution — Electro Magnetic Propulsion And Magnetic Shield Protective  Fields 
Revolutionary, electromagnetic propulsion systems, using super-cooled, conducting magnets and magnetoplasmadynamic (MPD) were developed for vastly superior performance over conventional chemical rockets. The time required to reach destinations such as Mars has been reduced significantly, by a factor of one year to less than two weeks. Initial funding from NASA and ESA, created a collaboration between Boeing, SpaceX and Virgin Galatic to produce these hybrid propulsion space craft. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/boeing-spacex-to-team-with-nasa-on-space-taxi/
The greatest threat to human space travel and colonization is from solar winds of magnetized plasma carrying protons and alpha particles, which can
Mars Frontier seriesbreak down DNA and lead to cancer. A magnetic coil shield system allows space craft protection from most harmful radiation by creating its own magnetosphere. This shielding system harnesses for universal applications to protect space station populations, inner planetary travelers and Martian colonies.
A high energy accelerator was developed on Mars using spectrums of solar energy to recreate a magnetic field to help produce a sustainable atmosphere.
Mars Frontier series
   An electromagnetic propulsion cargo ship as it begins entering a high energy state.

Mars Frontier series

 

Electromagnetic propulsion “asteroid lifter” encounters solar wind storm.   

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NASA illustration.

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Genetic Modification Through Astrobiology Provides Essential Benefits For Human Space Travelers
Evolutionary biology has provided advantages to meet the challenges of human travel into deep space.
The first generation of genetically modified humans was created to  limit the effects and risk from extended space travel. Microchip circuitry imbedded into tissue, gave humans expanded capabilities to assure space survivability, productivity, and flight operations. To combat muscle degradation from zero gravity-exposure, contractile protein levels were increased in muscle tissue.

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Settlements On The Red Planet And Stages Of Terraforming
To survive solar radiation effects, early Mar’s settlers lived bellow the planet’s regolith (soil). Within less than a decade, the colonies developed their own localized magnetosphere, which became encapsulated environments within translucent domes — creating an atmospheric oasis. These aerodynamic structures offer shielding from dust storms and subzero temperatures. Now, an enriched quality of life on Mars includes ever-expanding domains of Earth like atmosphere for expanded development and life above the surface of the red planet.Meteor showers streaming above craters and cliffs during a Martian sunrise.
Meteor showers streaming above craters and cliffs during a Martian sunrise.

Mars Frontier series

Massive mirrors are fixed in orbit above Mars for reflecting warmth back onto its surface, to provide a more temperate climate. Reflected light directed at Martian polar ice caps and its Carbon dioxide atmosphere of CO2 helps to keep thermal energy near the planet’s surface. As a result, a thermal runaway greenhouse effect is created to help build a thicker atmosphere. Release of microorganisms on the red the planet dramatically accelerates production, for intensifying greenhouse gas expansion.
Directing small asteroids with rich concentrations of ammonia to impact nitrate beds on Mars, releases high volumes of oxygen and nitrogen. These highly controlled asteroid strikes are providing substantial positive results to help develop an enriched atmosphere.

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Nanotechnology is now employed on the surface of Mars and is dramatically altering landscape regions within various craters. Genetically modified plant forms are successfully taking hold and surviving some test environments. In conclusion, all of these achievements are creating a more Earth like climate, for efforts to terraform Mars.

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Earth’s Sustainable Community On Mars
Self replicating machines using APM manufacturing allow infrastructure to develop at astonishing rates on the red planet. New scientific, engineering and mining communities are establishing themselves rapidly as they descend from orbiting stations and stationary platforms above the planet. The current population on Mars has surpassed 40,000 inhabitants and is projected to double within the next five-years.

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The form of governance adopted by the colonies on Mars is based on a nonpolitical and international form of cooperation.  Asteroid mining and APM manufacturing are the largest industries associated with the Mars colonies.

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 Martian colonists celebration party for “Pioneer Days.” Martian sunset seen in the background, behind a massive protective atmospheric shield.

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Fossil Bed Enigma Reveals We May Never Have Been Alone
Found only days ago in the Antoniadi Crater region, is evidence of a fossil and what appears to be human like footprints. Although this discovery may revolutionize our view of the red planet — we must wait for the samples to arrive on Earth to confirm what could be one of the greatest discoveries of all time.

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Discovery at a Martian archeological dig site — “we have never been alone.”

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Perchance, the most fascinating evidence of preexisting intelligence of life on Mars, was discovered near the Antoniadi Crater. Enclosed within a geographic site is a source, which is emitting peculiar magnetic fields. Upon further analysis revealed, distinct patterns of what appears as a mysterious complex digital codex. After extensive review and evaluation using a network of 2020 Enigma Genisus Computing system interpreted it as audible, instrumental sounds accompanied by visual projections of humanoid syncopated movements.BoC video See Ya Later
Most perplexing is the referenced quantitative variables, suggest the site was or is a time capsule or possibly a time-portal. To see the reference audio and visual projection, click on the link below. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53bCaqz0zZA
Music soundtrack for the Martian Prophecies — Powered by Boards of Canada (you can open another web browser if you’d like to have the following music play while viewing this essay)
Solar System & Planetary travel, music  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3l_IMOweP0E
Martian pioneers’ celebratory music  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jBzl–TN1Q   and or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYEZueAelKc  
Music for terraforming Mars to   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qthHlLyvplg
A canopy of stars floats above the Monuments of Mars site, just as "Vesta 2"(support station) enters the view, reflecting solar light in its West-East orbital path.

Martian moonlight illuminates sculpted cliffs, as “Vesta II” (logistics platform) enters view —piercing the night sky with solar light reflecting off its West-East orbital path.

Facts Concerning Mars
One day on Mars = 24 hours 37 minutes and 22 seconds.
One year on Mars = 686.98 Earth days.
Average distance from Earth to Mars = 225 million kilometers.
The minimum distance from Earth to Mars = 54. million km.
The farthest distance from Earth to Mars = 401 million km.
Warmest temperature of Mars — 70 degrees F (20 degrees C) near the equator
Origin of the name Mars = Ancient Roman god of war and agricultural guardian
The calendar Month named after Mars = March
Links to Learn More About Mars
http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/01/gallery-mars/
http://cbhd.org/content/whose-image-remaking-humanity-through-cybernetics-and-nanotechnology
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/missions/
http://www.nasa.gov/vision/space/travelinginspace/future_propulsion.html
http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/2008/nov/06/magnetic-shield-could-protect-spacecraft
http://www.slate.com/blogs/quora/2013/09/12/outer_space_can_we_make_mars_or_venus_habitable.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_private_spaceflight_companies
http://www.forbes.com/sites/brucedorminey/2013/05/29/can-mars-be-terraformed-nasas-maven-mission-could-provide-answers/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lagrangian_point
http://www.applieddefense.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/2001-Carrico-Sun-Mars_Libration_Points_And_Mars_Mission_Simulations.pdf
http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2305/1
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/crux/2014/09/08/where-build-off-world-colonies/#.VGp-1BYexjk
http://www.nss.org/spacemovement/greason.html
http://web.mit.edu/sydneydo/Public/Mars%20One%20Feasibility%20Analysis%20IAC14.pdf
A list of over 400 essays on Mars http://www.123helpme.com/search.asp?text=mars

 

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There’s Nothing New Under the Sun, or is There?

19 Jul

Science Tech Tablet provides periodic updates on solar activity, the essay begins after the Space Weather Prediction Center Report

Prepared jointly by the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, NOAA,
Space Weather Prediction Center and the U.S. Air Force.
Updated 2013 Jul 19 2200 UTC

Joint USAF/NOAA Solar Geophysical Activity Report and Forecast
SDF Number 200 Issued at 2200Z on 19 Jul 2013

IA.  Analysis of Solar Active Regions and Activity from 18/2100Z to
19/2100Z: Solar activity has been at very low levels for the past 24
hours. There are currently 7 numbered sunspot regions on the disk.

IB.  Solar Activity Forecast: Solar activity is likely to be low with a
slight chance for an M-class flare on days one, two, and three (20 Jul,
21 Jul, 22 Jul).

IIA.  Geophysical Activity Summary 18/2100Z to 19/2100Z: The geomagnetic
field has been at quiet to unsettled levels for the past 24 hours. Solar
wind speed, as measured by the ACE spacecraft, reached a peak speed of
674 km/s at 19/1650Z. Total IMF reached 12 nT at 18/2100Z. The maximum
southward component of Bz reached -9 nT at 19/0122Z. Electrons greater
than 2 MeV at geosynchronous orbit reached a peak level of 2710 pfu.

IIB.  Geophysical Activity Forecast: The geomagnetic field is expected
to be at unsettled to minor storm levels on day one (20 Jul), unsettled
to active levels on day two (21 Jul) and quiet to unsettled levels on
day three (22 Jul).

III.  Event probabilities 20 Jul-22 Jul
Class M    15/15/15
Class X    01/01/01
Proton     01/01/01
PCAF       green

IV.  Penticton 10.7 cm Flux
Observed           19 Jul 114
Predicted   20 Jul-22 Jul 115/115/115
90 Day Mean        19 Jul 121

V.  Geomagnetic A Indices
Observed Afr/Ap 18 Jul  016/015
Estimated Afr/Ap 19 Jul  011/014
Predicted Afr/Ap 20 Jul-22 Jul  014/020-011/015-008/010

VI.  Geomagnetic Activity Probabilities 20 Jul-22 Jul
A.  Middle Latitudes
Active                35/30/25
Minor Storm           20/10/05
Major-severe storm    05/01/01
B.  High Latitudes
Active                10/15/15
Minor Storm           25/30/30
Major-severe storm    50/40/30


 A multimedia eLearning essay by: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights — First Addition

 Please note: This essay is a follow-up from my chronicle on solar storm effects of the 1859 Carrington Event on an industrial era society— forward to the postmodern, microelectronic world of today. To better understand the context of this article, it’s suggested you view my introduction solar storm essay found  by selecting the March 2012 archives found on left side of this page.  The National Academy of  Sciences (NAS) (funded by the U.S. Congress) produced a landmark report in 2008 entitled “Severe Space Weather Events— Societal Impacts.” It reported how people of the 21st-century depend on advance-technology systems for daily living, The National Academy of Science stated— Electric power grids, GPS navigation, air travel, financial services and emergency radio communications can all be knocked out by intense solar activity.  A century-class solar storm, the Academy warned, could cause twenty times more economic damage than Hurricane Katrina. [1] Some leading solar researchers believe we are now due for a century-class storm.                                

Photo courtesy of NASA

You’re encouraged to help make the essay interactive by entering comments or observations in the dialogue box at the end of the essay.
The essay is a work in progress, please check back as more content will be added
in the coming days.  — To see this essay in another format, please visit the site: http://www.BigPictureOne.wordpress.com
July 15, 2012 aurora borealis sighting near Everett, WA. This event was caused from an X-class solar storm, which occurred within a week of another X-class storm (X-class being the most severe classification). The 11-year solar cycle is approaching a solar maximum around 2013, this will most likely bring more intense solar storm activity.

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Depending on your interpretation of the essay’s title, there is nothing new under the sun when it comes to our neighboring star’s behavior. Since our Sun left its infancy as a protostar over 4 billion years ago, by triggering a nuclear fusion reaction and entering a main-sequence stage, its solar mechanics have maintained relative consistent patterns. What has not remained the same is the evolution of life on Earth, in particular, our species’ development of a civilization which now is dependent on a form of energy called electricity. Our Sun is now playing a version of solar roulette with the World’s social and economic future.

The name “aurora borealis” was given by Galileo Galilei, in 1619 A.D., inspired from the Roman goddess of dawn, Aurora, and Boreas from the Greek name for north wind. First record siting was in 2600 B.C. in China. Collision between oxygen particles in Earth’s atmosphere with charged (ionized) particles released from the sun creates green and yellow luminous colors beginning at altitudes of 50 miles (80 kilometers). Blue or purplish-red is produced from nitrogen particles. The solar particles are attracted by the Earth’s northern and southern magnetic poles with curtains of light stretching east to west.

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Reaching back only a few generations into the 20th Century, electricity was considered a luxury—today ordinary life would be impossible without it! And that’s where our beloved Sun comes into the picture, to potentially cast a shadow on our dependency of electricity. Solar storms have been a reoccurring event before time began, but they didn’t affect people outside of providing a fantastic, special effects light-show  until a critical event happened in 1859.  

In the mid 19th century, while the industrial revolution was near full development, the resource of electric power was first harnessed. Shortly after electricity was put into use for communication using telegraph technology (a 19th century equivalent of the Internet), is when the Sun revealed                                                                                                     a  shocking surprise in the most powerful solar storm ever recorded, which was known a the Carrington Event.

The year 1859 was near a peak in the Sun’s 11-year solar cycle, when the Sun’s polarity readies for reversal. Approaching  the end  sequence of this magnetic shift, brings a solar maximum , which produces violent solar flares and ejects plasma clouds outwards into space. If the flare occurs in a region opposite of Earth, a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) may send a billion-ton radiation storm towards our planet. Fortunately, the Earth is protected by a robust atmosphere and a magnetic field surrounding the globe, which protects us from most  solar winds. However, an intense solar storm with its charged plasma cloud  can overwhelm our planet’s protective shields. When an extreme solar storm’s magnetic energy counteracts with our planet’s protective magnet field, it creates geomagnetic induced currents (GICs). GICs are massive amounts of electromagnetic energy which travel through the ground and ocean water, seeking the path of  least resistance in power lines, pipe lines and rail tracks. 

In the 1859, Carrington event, the GICs surged through the world’s emerging global communication system,known as the telegraph. So much power was generated from the solar storm entering the Earth’s atmosphere, it sent massive currents through telegraph wires, catching offices on fire, nearly electrocuting operators and  mysteriously continued sending signals with batteries completely  disconnected.     

A visual indication of the Earth’s magnetic field being overwhelmed occurs when the aurora borealis appears. If the cosmic-light-show can be seen near the tropics, it’s an indicator our planet’s magnetic fields are severely being overrun. In the extreme solar storm of 1859, the aurora borealis was seen near the equator and it was reported  people were able to read newspapers outdoors at midnight. Navigational compasses (19th century version of GPS)  throughout the world spun-out-of-control due to the flux of electromagnetic energy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
A more recent, dramatic example of a solar storm’s impact is the 1989, Quebec-Power blackout. The geomagnetic storm created was much milder than the solar maxim of the 1859, Carrington Event. However, it’s a chilling preview of what a complex, unprotected  electrical grid faces when up against the forces of super solar storm. Quebec-Power’s large transformers were fried by the GICs overloading its grid network. Electrical grids and power-lines  act like a giant antennas in pulling in the  massive flow of geomagnetic energy. In the 1989 solar storm incident, over 6 million people lost power in Eastern Canada and the U.S., with additional connecting power grids on the verge of collapsing.  Again, the powerful 1989 solar disturbance was not the 100 year super storm, but a small preview of what can if  preparations are made to protect the power grid.
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Solar scientist are now able to put together how extreme storms follow an 11 year solar maxim cycle, like the one we’re now entering, and should peak sometime in 2013. Already this year, six major X-class solar storms, the most intense type, have occurred since January. Within one week of July, we had two of the X-class storms, with last one pointing directly at Earth. On July 13, 2012, the Washington Post’s Jason Sometime, wrote an article with his concerns on how NASA and NOAA were sending out inconsistent warnings about the solar storm from July 12.

A spectrum of telecommunication may be lost during severe solar and geomagnetic storms. Photo: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights

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The federal agency FEMA, appears to have learned its’ lesson from Hurricane Katrina and being proactive with a series of super solar storm scenarios. These  scenarios  illustrate the many challenges towards maintaining communication and electric power, based on the strength of the solar event. Without reliable power, food distribution will be problematic. Today we have less reliance on large warehouse  inventories and more dependenancy on — “just in time” food delivery. According to Willis Risk Solutions (industrial underwriter insurer for electric utilities) and Lloyds World Specialist Insurer (formerly LLoyds of London), there’s a global shortage of industrial large electric transformer, which now are only made in a few countries. It would take years to replace the majority of the World’s electric transformers and technically require massive amounts of electric power, which ironically, would not be available in an event of an extreme geomagnetic storm.  http://www.lloyds.com/News-and-Insight/News-and-Features/360-News/Emerging-Risk-360/Transformers-a-risk-to-keeping-the-power-on-230810
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The companies and  the federal agencies mentioned in this essay, are overall, considered highly respected and cautious in forecasting major threats to societies and national economies. All of the mentioned government entities and scientific organizations realize it’s not a matter  if, but when will the next super solar storm be aimed and sent to Earth.
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The good news is we can still take the necessary precautions to protect our society and economic future form this clear and present threat. Here’s a link to the 2008 National Academy of Science (funded by congress) report:  Severe Weather—Understanding Societal and Economic Impact: A Workshop Report (2008). This group meets every year to work on preventative strategies. The report contains cost-effective protection plans for electric power grids, please see link provided.        http://books.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12507 
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Second Addition: More to be added in the days ahead including…
— Update on U.S. House of Representatives and Senate sponsored  legislation for solar and geomagnetic storm preparedness.
— Electric power industry mitigation and preparedness for solar and geomagnetic storm preparedness.
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Chronicles of the largest solar and geomagnetic storms in the last 500 years.

1847  — First geomagnetic storm caused by solar flare inadvertently documented with telegraph technology.  Reports were the telegraph system was sending clearer signals by disconnecting its batteries and using the geomagnetic energy from the storm.  First published affects caused from geomagnetic storm.

1859  — Becomes known as the “Carrington Event;” telegraph system becomes inoperable worldwide as reports of offices are set on fire from supercharged telegraph wire. This is the largest geomagnetic storm in 500 years. Scientist impressed with the event begin documenting future solar storm activity. The destructive power from a storm of this magnitude would devastate global power grids, satellites, computer and communication systems.

1921 — Know as the “Great Storm,” it impacted  worldwide telegraph and radio signals with total blackouts  and cables were burned beyond use. This scale of geomagnetic storm is likely to occur approximately once every 100 years.  As we approach a century mark since this type of storm took place — it’s possible another one could happen at anytime, with devastating results unless preventative measures are taken.

1989 —  Major solar flare erupts on surface of the Sun opposite of Earth; a resulting solar storm trigers a massive geomagnetic storm, which overwhelms Quebec’s power grid. As a result of the storm, six million people instantly loses power as U.S. Northeast and Midwest connecting grids come within seconds of collapse. As a result, Canadian government becomes proactive and takes effort to protect its power grid from future solar storms.

2003 — Know as the “Halloween Storms” this series of geomagnetic storms disrupted GPS, blocked High Frequency (HF) radio and triggered emergency procedures a various nuclear power plants. In Scandinavia and South Africa, section of  power grids were hit hard, many large power transformers were destroyed by the powerful geomagnetic induced currents (GICs).

Chronological  Reports and News Accounts of Solar Storms From 1859 to 2003

This is one of the most comprehensive  list of solar storm accounts on the web. The site chronicles strange solar storm happenings; such as reports in the early 1960s  with TV programs suddenly disappearing and reappearing in other regions. Other unsettling reports include the U.S. being cutoff from radio communication from the rest of the world during a geomagnetic storm. Please see link below:

http://www.solarstorms.org/SRefStorms.html

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Solar Storm Acronyms and Terms

ACE — Advance Compositional Explore = NASA satellite used in detecting and monitoring potential damaging solar flares and CMEs.

AC — alternating current

BPS — bulk power system 

CME — coronal mass ejection = caused from a solar fare near the surface of the sun, which sends  a billion-ton radiation storm out into space.

EHV — extra high voltage

FERC — United States Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

GIC — geo-magnetic induced current = an extreme solar storm’s magnetic energy counteracts with our planet’s protective magnet field, creating electric current which conducts or travels through the ground or ocean water.

GMD — geo-magnetic disturbance

GAO — Government Accounting Office

GPS — global positioning system = A series of satellites positioned in an Earth, geostationary orbit for use in military and civilian navigation

NERC — North American Electric Reliability Corporation

NASA — National Aeronautics and Space Administration

NOAA — National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminestration

POES — Polar Operational Environmental Satellite

SEP — solar energetic particle

SOHO — Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (satellite)

STDC — Solar Terrestrial Dispatch Center (Canada)

STEREO — Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (Satellite)

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Sources and Links

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NASA Resources
Illustration courtesy of NASA
A useful illustration for understanding NASA’s efforts with Heliophysics System Observatory
Detail explanation of space weather and NASA monitoring can be found at the following link:   http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sunearth/spaceweather/index.html
NOAA Solar storm monitor sites:
NOAA is the nation’s official source of space weather alerts, monitoring and alerts. The following NOAA site provides realtime monitoring and forecasting of solar and geophysical events.  http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/
http://www.n3kl.org/sun/status.html

Washington Post story on conflicting NASA and NOAA solar forecast warnings for the July 12, 2012 solar storm event.
 http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/post/solar-storm-incoming-federal-agencies-provide-inconsistent-confusing-information/2012/07/13/gJQAkm06hW_blog.html

NASA and NOAA sites (post warning of impending dangers to the electrical grid from solar storms producing extreme geomagnetic induce currents (GICs) on Earth). http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2009/21jan_severespaceweather/ http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2010/26oct_solarshield/ http://www.noaawatch.gov/themes/space.php

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/mar/18/solar-storm-flare-disruption-technology

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/07/solar-flare-cme-aurora/

http://www.usfa.fema.gov/fireservice/subjects/emr-isac/infograms/ig2012/4-12.shtm#3

My solar storm articles from February www.bigpictureone.wordpress.com  and in the March addition of  www.ScienceTechTablet.wordpress.com  present a comprehensive picture of how solar flares and solar storms originate, with the potential of producing geomagnetic storms on Earth.  If these geomagnetic storms are severe enough, they can threaten our way of life. Some strategies and common sense precautions are offered  for civic preparedness in the case of an extreme solar event.

 

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The Unworldly Splendor of Oregon’s Painted Hills.

3 Apr

Photo/video and text by: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights

The sun had just set as I arrived at my friend’s condominium on Lake Washington near Seattle.  Rick was loading camera equipment into his SUV Ford Escape, which is a gasoline-electric hybrid and incidentally one of the first American-built hybrids.

We had a long drive ahead of us and we’d be traveling all night until reaching our destination in the high desert of Central Oregon.  It was a cool, but clear, May evening, as the SUV climbed steadily up Snoqualmie pass; taking us over the Cascade Mountains and  into dryer Eastern Washington.  After a few hours of driving the glow from a near full moon was illuminating the desert sagebrush outside the town of Goldendale on the Columbia River.

Wind turbines above the Columbia River are lit by the moon.

Our adventure to John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, was planed  to coincide with a full moon to illuminate the surreal Painted Hills within the Monument.  Rick and I use digital cameras, featuring full-sized imaging sensors and fast optical lenses, which are ideal for capturing in lowlight environments.  Taking the opportunity to harness some moonlight as it rose above the Columbia Gorge, we made a stop to photograph wind turbines, which populate this section of Washington and Oregon.  The site is ideal for wind farms due to the wind tunnel conditions created by compressed airstreams forcefully moving through the constricted Gorge.   

Standing next to a colossal tower is a strange experience.  These wind catchers are the largest machines you’ll probably encounter on land and the eerie sounds produced from the massive propeller blades takes some getting use to.

Driving on the Washington side of the Columbia River and into Oregon you see legions of wind turbine sentinels, as they constantly harvest the restless winds.  It takes an hour of driving south on the highway before we no longer have towers flanking our drive. What I’m surprised not to see are other cars traveling in either direction on the highway.  The vast size of Eastern Oregon is not appreciated unless you spend some time touring in its’ large, unpopulated counties.

After traveling all night and encountering some falling snow as the hybrid SUV started ascending the road to the high desert—we finally entered into the realm of the primeval Painted Hills.  It’s totally dark now that the moon set hours earlier, so we pull into a remote area to catch a couple of hours of sleep before our video and photography expedition begins.  The John Day Fossil Bed National Monument is organized into three Units; the Painted Hills is the third Unit, which contains 3,132 acres of wildlife, plants and some unusual geology.

Over millions of years, layers of ash from nearby volcanic eruptions mixed with clay through the process of erosion to cause intense patterns of color.

The following morning was a like waking up in some eye-candy dreamland.  The colors just popped out of the scene like a TV monitor, which had been over adjusted with the saturation turned way up.  Stunned by the startling beauty, I grabbed my video camera on a tripod and began shooting panorama footage.  Ready for capturing the details of the environment; an external microphone was used to record the outburst of chattering songbirds, which had woken up to herald the beginning of a new day.  My first impression was an experience of sensory overload; it was  challenging to take in all the colors, sounds and surreal shapes of the textured topography.  What I was seeing, appeared to be out of this world —like viewing some futuristic post cards of a terraformed  Martian landscape.

What I remembered from earlier road trips to Southwest was how striking the Painted Desert in Arizona appeared but that now seemed pale in comparison to the Painted Hills.  What makes the  geology at this site so vivid with saturated color was caused by a series of volcanic  eruptions, occurring over millions of years.  The accumulation of bright  layers of ash, dust and clay mixed together from relentless years of erosion — forming intense, saturated strata of colors, layered into the hills.

What remains buried beneath the volcanic soil is a time-capsule, of preserved fossil remains from mammals and plants, which thrived  during the  Cenozoic Era – the Age of Mammal [roughly 65 million years ago.] This National Monument is a target rich environment for paleontologist studying fossils from this time period.

After I shot about an hours worth of video from the spot we had park at from the night before, it was time to scout other dramatic locations.  Not too far into our drive we spotted a family of graceful antelope, casually grazing in a large field.  Apparently, from talking with one of the NPS Rangers, this National Monument is full of indigenous wildlife including: bears, cougars and eagles.

Latter in the afternoon we stopped at the side of a gravel road to take in a stunning view of  one of the larger hills at the site.  The clouds above were opening and closing like a massive shutter on a spotlight; producing lighting effects which were irresistible.  We set up tripods along with our video and still cameras to begin shooting right away.  Shortly after, a ranger  pulled up close to the SUV and was intently watching us. Rick and I looked at each other with a shrug, thinking perhaps we had unknowingly parked in a restricted area. Eventually the ranger introduced himself, he had the impression we were part of a National Park Service video crew, which was schedule to be doing work at the Monument.  The ranger was there to lead a group of photographers into a restricted area for a guided tour, so he invited us to join in.  As it turned out, this special photography tour only takes place one weekend out of the entire year —when the John Day chaenactus (a bright yellow wild flower) begins to bloom; then as quickly as it appears—it begins to fade away.

The photographer’s tour was visually fantastic and can only be experienced under the supervision of an NPS Ranger.  The plant life is so fragile here, you’re only allowed to  walk inside a dried out creek bed while touring this area.  The Ranger was gracious enough to allow me to interview him about the site.  Wind is common and unpredictable in this high desert area, so I came prepared with a wind guard on my microphone; but I did experience a few audio dropouts,  hopefully you’ll able to hear the main message clearly enough.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMno4hbg-ZA

Later that evening we photographed the landscapes using a full moon for our lighting. I’ve never seen greater clarity of the stars and moon from this high desert environment, which created a great backdrop for an unearthly landscape. We photographed throughout the night until the light of predawn appeared.

At a little over 2,000 feet in elevation, the high desert can produce cold, bone-chilling weather and as mentioned—windy conditions.  I recommend warm clothing and gloves to help keep your hands comfortable from wind-chill.  For photography, the higher altitude is a great benefit, especially for optical clarity if your focus is on night photography of stars and landscapes.

I definitely plan to go back to the Painted Hills as soon as possible… it’s a dreamlike setting I have rarely experienced, which captivates the senses, with its splendor of stunning colors contained within an unworldly environment. ~

LINKS:

Here’s a link to National Park Service’s John Day Fossil Bed National Monument:   http://www.nps.gov/joda/index.htm

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