Aspen’s “Snowmageddon!”: 24 Inches In 24 Hours; Tuvalu Sea Level Rise: Politics vs Science; + The Halloween Solar Storm, 20 Years On

Aspen’s “Snowmageddon!”: 24 Inches In 24 Hours

‘Snowmass’ is a ski resort located in the Town of Snowmass Village near Aspen, Colorado — it just got pounded.

The resort received a whopping 2 feet of October snow in just 24-hour period, as shown by the measuring stick at:

Below are the storm totals based on the snow stake cams and automated weather stations on the mountains as of Sunday morning, as reported by Sam Collentine of OpenSnow:

* Highlands: 24+”

* Snowmass: 24+”

* Buttermilk: 18+”

* Aspen Mountain: 18+”

“Highlands and Snowmass could have received more but the automated sensors were a bit funky over the past 24 hours,” writes Collentine, who adds “Holy smokes!”

Snow has collected at lower elevations, too, which is unusual, while 30+ inches have clipped the peaks.

Here are the totals for a few other spots around the state, as reported by the National Weather Service:

* Southern Colorado Springs: 11 inches

* Northern Colorado Springs: 5. 3 inches

* Fort Collins: 3.7 inches

* Copper Mountain: 16.9 inches

* Loveland Pass: 11.7 inches

* Breckenridge: 16 inches

* Silverthorne: 15.6

* Eldora: 14 inches

* Berthoud Pass: 13 inches

* Estes Park: 11.7 inches

Tuvalu Sea Level Rise: Politics vs Science

In 2021, Tuvalu’s foreign minister gave a speech to the UN’s climate conference standing knee-deep in seawater to show how his low-lying Pacific island nation was on the “front line of climate change”.

As dutifully reported by the legacy media, “Images of Simon Kofe standing in a suit and tie at a lectern set up in the sea, with his trouser legs rolled up, have been shared widely on social media, drawing attention to Tuvalu’s struggle against rising sea levels.”

“The statement juxtaposes the COP26 setting with the real-life situations faced in Tuvalu due to the impacts of climate change and sea level rise and highlights the bold action Tuvalu is taking to address the very pressing issues of human mobility under climate change,” Kofe said of his video message to the conference.

The video was shown at the 2021 climate summit in Glasgow, where regional leaders pushed for more aggressive action to limit the impact of global boiling, then called climate change, before that global warming, before that… weather.

Pacific Island leaders demanded immediate action, pointing out that the very survival of their low-lying countries is at stake.

That was the politics, but here is the science:

No. Tuvalu is not on the brink of submersion. Actual science reveals the island has increased its land area 2.6% due to accretion (growth or increase by the gradual accumulation of additional layers or matter).

Kofe’s speech looks and sounds great politically, but it’s totally misleading when it comes to the facts.

As per the abstract of a Paul S. Kench et al. study published in Nature:

“Results highlight a net increase in land area in Tuvalu of 73.5 ha (2.9%) … Results challenge perceptions of island loss, showing island are dynamic features that will persist at sites for habitation over the next century.”

And this isn’t just true for Tuvalua, but for ALL atolls:

Bjorn Lomborg sums it up on X:

The Halloween Solar Storm, 20 Years On

“Half of Earth’s Satellites Lost!” read the headlines after the Great Halloween Storms of 2003.

Solar Cycle 23 was winding down, and space weather forecasters were talking about how quiet things would soon become.

Suddenly, the Sun unleashed two of the strongest solar flares of the Space Age: an X17 flare on Oct 28, followed by an X10 on Oct 29, 2003. Both hurled fast-moving Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) directly toward Earth.

An X17-flare in the magnetic canopy of giant sunspot 486 erupts on Oct 29, 2003.[SOHO]

Traveling 2125 km/s and 1948 km/s, respectively, each CME reached Earth in less than a day, sparking extreme (G5) geomagnetic storms on Oct 29, 30, and 31, 2003.

Composite image showing aurora over northern Europe, taken by DMSP on Oct 30, 2003.

In the U.S., auroras descended as far south as Georgia, California, New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, and Oklahoma.

Onboard the International Space Station, astronauts took shelter in the hardened Zvezda service module to protect themselves from high energy particles.

While at lower altitudes, airline pilots were frantically changing course. Flights over Earth’s poles detoured to lower latitudes to avoid radiation, costing as much as $100,000 per flight.

Many Earth-orbiting satellites experienced data outages, reboots and even unwanted thruster firings.

Some operators simply gave up and turned their instruments off.

Many of Earth’s satellites were actually “lost”–not destroyed, out of action.

In a 2020 paper entitled “Flying Through Uncertainty,” USAF satellite operators recalled how “the majority of satellites (in low Earth orbit) were temporarily lost, requiring several days of around-the-clock work to reestablish their positions.”

The source of the 2003 Halloween storms: active sunspot ‘486’.

The Halloween storms pumped an extra 3 Terrawatts of power into Earth’s upper atmosphere, explains Dr Tony Phillips of Geomagnetic heating puffed up the atmosphere, sharply increasing aerodynamic drag on satellites.

Some satellites in low-Earth orbit found themselves off course by one to tens of kilometers.

Most satellite operators today have never experienced anything like the Halloween storms. That’s a problem, continues Dr Phillips, because the number of objects they need to track has sharply increased.

Since 2003, the population of active satellites has ballooned to more than 7,000, with an additional 20,000+ pieces of debris larger than 10 cm.

Losing track of so many objects in such a congested environment could theoretically trigger a cascade of collisions, rendering low Earth orbit unusable for years following an extreme geomagnetic storm.

Given our ever-increasing dependence on this tech, as well our planet’s ever-waning magnetic field strength, that’s scary.

On Feb 4, 2022 a weak CME hit Earth.

The event was supposed to pass by uneventfully, perhaps sparking a few auroras but nothing more. So how did a G1 geomagnetic storm ensue? How did the KP hit level 5? And how did 40+ Starlink satellites come crashing back down to Earth?

“On Feb 3 at 1:13 p.m. EST, Falcon 9 launched 49 Starlink satellites to low Earth orbit from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at Kennedy Space Center in Florida,” read a SpaceX statement.

“Unfortunately, the satellites deployed on were significantly impacted by a geomagnetic storm on [Feb 4].”

Two days before launch, a CME hit Earth’s magnetic field. It was not a major space weather event. In fact, the weak impact did not at first spark any remarkable geomagnetic activity. However, as Earth passed through the CME’s wake, some sputtering G1-class geomagnetic storms did develop, and it was one of these minor perturbations that hit the Starlink satellites on Feb 4.

Geomagnetic storms heat Earth’s upper atmosphere. Diaphanous tendrils of warming air literally reached up and grabbed the Starlink satellites.

According to SpaceX, onboard GPS devices detected atmospheric drag increasing “up to 50 percent higher than during previous launches,” which is absolutely staggering — the heating was so extreme it was beyond the heating in modern solar models for storms 10-100 times bigger.

The company’s statement continued: “The Starlink team commanded the satellites into a safe-mode where they would fly edge-on (like a sheet of paper) to minimize drag. Preliminary analysis show the increased drag at the low altitudes prevented the satellites from leaving safe-mode to begin orbit raising maneuvers, and up to 40 of the satellites will reenter or already have reentered the Earth’s atmosphere.”

The Sociedad de Astronomia del Caribe apparently caught one of the reentries over Puerto Rico on Feb 7:

SpaceX says that the deorbiting satellites “pose zero collision risk with other satellites and by design demise upon atmospheric reentry—meaning no orbital debris is created and no satellite parts hit the ground.”

But how did such a minor solar event catch the experienced SpaceX team off guard?

The company launched 49 Starlink satellites into lower orbit for their usual validation phase. At first everything went as planned. However, it wasn’t long before an ongoing geomagnetic storm –caused by 1) interaction with the Sun’s current sheet, and 2) a plasma stream riding the solar wind– began causing major problems.

The storm succeeded in downing at least 40 of the 49 craft, most of which have now burnt up in the upper atmosphere.

At 210km (130 miles) up, the satellites were in the highest dangerzone for solar storms — they are at the key energy coupling point for a geomagnetic activity. However, this storm, by all measurements and standards, was extremely weak — it was a run of the mill space weather event, which explains why the SpaceX team decided to launch despite the forecasts. The company have shot many satellites into orbit during similarly sized geomagnetic storms, on ten previous occasions, in fact, all without issue.

No, a G1-storm / KP5 reading isn’t at all concerning in of itself, not in the slightest — they occur regularly, approx. 100-200 times a decade. The cause for concern here, and what they won’t tell you, is that this is a huge FAILURE for Earth’s magnetic field. In other words, it is evidence of our planet’s ever-waning magnetosphere, which is weaker than we’ve all realized and getting weaker all the time due to forcings and mechanisms that we simply don’t have a good grip of thanks, at least in part, to a chronic under-funding of the field in favor of the more lucrative rewards offered by fairy-tales such as ‘anthropogenic global warming’.

But to say we don’t know anything would be inaccurate. We do have a limited, though tried-and-tested, understanding of the factors involved, which include two key players: 1) low solar activity, and 2) our planet’s migrating magnetic poles.

As Earth loses its dipole magnetic shape, due to the shifting of its poles, the overall field strength is weakening. Earth is effectively losing its protective shield against energy from space, meaning every enhancement of the solar wind, every crossing of the Sun’s current sheet, and every CME is having a larger and larger impact than it ordinarily would, both directly on the upper atmosphere, and also indirectly through the ionosphere’s equator-traveling waves that come from the aurora.

In the year 2000, we knew the field had lost 10 percent of its strength since the 1800s. Another 5 percent was lost by 2010. Further accelerations occurred in recent years, 2015 and 2017, but we laymen were not privy to any additional loss data.

Given the last solid data point we have, that of 2010, our magnetic field should have handled this recent impact far better. Those Starlink satellites should not have been taken out — I can picture SpaceX team still scratching their heads.

And while this is a small blow for a man (Musk), it poses a much bigger risk for mankind. What happens when the ‘big one’ hits? One arriving hot on the heels of a large coronal hole stream, for example? What happens when that monstrous X-class solar flare is fired directly at us?

Bottom line, the Sun is capable of much much more, more than just the downing of satellites (as bad as that is). When that next powerful X-flare hits it will pose serious problems to the electrical infrastructure across the planet, i.e. blackouts and chaos.

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