Cosmic Rays and their effect on earth

Reposted from:  Space Weather, including links, with my own emphasis noted.
Updated: Sept. 29 2016 // Next Flight: Oct. 1, 2016

Sept. 20, 2016: Readers, thank you for your patience while we continue to develop this new section of We’ve been working to streamline our data reduction, allowing us to post results from balloon flights much more rapidly, and we have developed a new data product, shown here:

This plot displays radiation measurements not only in the stratosphere, but also at aviation altitudes. Dose rates are expressed as multiples of sea level. For instance, we see that boarding a plane that flies at 25,000 feet exposes passengers to dose rates ~10x higher than sea level. At 40,000 feet, the multiplier is closer to 50x. These measurements are made by our usual cosmic ray payload as it passes through aviation altitudes en route to the stratosphere over California.

What is this all about? Approximately once a week, and the students of Earth to Sky Calculus fly space weather balloons to the stratosphere over California. These balloons are equipped with radiation sensors that detect cosmic rays, a surprisingly “down to Earth” form of space weather. Cosmic rays can seed clouds, trigger lightning, and penetrate commercial airplanes. Furthermore, there are studies (#1, #2, #3, #4) linking cosmic rays with cardiac arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death in the general population. Our latest measurements show that cosmic rays are intensifying, with an increase of more than 12% since 2015:

Why are cosmic rays intensifying? The main reason is the sun. Solar storm clouds such as coronal mass ejections (CMEs) sweep aside cosmic rays when they pass by Earth. During Solar Maximum, CMEs are abundant and cosmic rays are held at bay. Now, however, the solar cycle is swinging toward Solar Minimum, allowing cosmic rays to return. Another reason could be the weakening of Earth’s magnetic field, (see also Climate and Earth’s Magnetic Field) which helps protect us from deep-space radiation.

The radiation sensors onboard our helium balloons detect X-rays and gamma-rays in the energy range 10 keV to 20 MeV. These energies span the range of medical X-ray machines and airport security scanners.

The data points in the graph above correspond to the peak of the Reneger-Pfotzer maximum, which lies about 67,000 feet above central California. When cosmic rays crash into Earth’s atmosphere, they produce a spray of secondary particles that is most intense at the entrance to the stratosphere. Physicists Eric Reneger and Georg Pfotzer discovered the maximum using balloons in the 1930s and it is what we are measuring today.


Climate and earth’s magnetic field

One thing that puzzles me about science is how increased knowledge leads to greater doubts about science’s dogmatic assertions and how much it upsets many scientists. Seriously? Sorry, can’t relate. It’s only science, not a religion. I’m always interested in new information, carefully  examining for accuracy and truth (to the best of my ability) and growing in wonder and awe at The Creator’s handiwork.

I am particularly fascinated by the larger influences on the earth’s climate, things that are not “sexy” or media worthy because you can’t blame it on anybody. In this case, the earth’s magnetic field. It is a mysterious thing, having more profound effects on our world, our weather and our lives than we can imagine.

Simulations Strengthen Earth’s Magnetic-Field/Climate Connection

The Earth’s Magnetic Field Remains a Charged Mystery

Aurora Borealis induced sounds confirmed – measured at 70m AGL



The North Pole is moving (OMG, is that our fault, too?)

Most people don’t know that magnetic north is not the same as the North Pole itself; in fact, it moves! The implications for those who live in Canada (or up in those latitudes) and who are trying to find their way around in the woods by compass is interesting, don’t you think? So where was it when you were born?

Since the previous picture, the pole has continued its rapid move. From comes a new map.

According to the site:

It seemed to barely move until about 1904, when its position began to track northeastward about nine miles per year. The speed began to increase significantly in a northwesterly direction about 1998, and now averages about 37 miles each year. This means the pole will be located in northern Russia later this century if the movement and speed don’t change.

Air transportation uses magnetic compass directions for navigation, meaning airports are having to rename their runways as the shift continues.

The practical effect if this is described at

Runways are designated according to the points on a compass, and the drifting magnetic north means that they, periodically, need to be renamed.

“Recently, the drift has caused our runways’ orientations to be closer to the next increment on the magnetic compass,” Tampa International Airport spokeswoman Brenda Geoghagan told LiveScience in an e-mail.

For example, the west parallel runway, which was named 36Left —18Right to designate compass points of 360 degrees and 180 degrees, is being renamed to 1Left — 19Right, to indicate 10 degrees and 190 degrees, since the runway designations are separated into 10-degree increments.

Oh, and just in case you were curious, the south magnetic pole is moving as well, and since every magnetic field has two polarities, North and South, one might think that whatever is happening with one pole would be happening (in the inverse?) to it’s opposite pole.  In fact, the south pole is NOT behaving similarly, but is slowing down. Presently it’s only moving 3 miles (5 km) per year, only a tenth the speed of the north!

Its current location is 1,800 miles away from the geographic South Pole, in the Southern Ocean, at a latitude of 65° S, so far north that it’s not even in the Antarctic circle. The ocean-going magnetic South Pole is naturally unmarked, but if you happen to be there, you’ll know: Your compass needle will spin aimlessly. This pole moves over time too, albeit for a different reason. The earth’s magnetic field is in constant flux, responding to shifts in the flow of the earth’s liquid metal core. (

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