Isostatic equilibrium in spherical coordinates and implications for crustal thickness on the Moon, Mars, Enceladus, and elsewhere [CL]

Isostatic equilibrium is commonly understood to be the state of equilibrium–neglecting mantle dynamics and the slow relaxation of the crust–achieved when there are no lateral gradients in hydrostatic or lithostatic pressure, and thus no lateral flow, at depth within the lower viscosity mantle that underlies the outer crust of a planetary body. In a constant-gravity Cartesian framework, this definition is equivalent to the requirement that columns of equal width contain equal masses. Here we show, however, that this equivalence breaks down when the spherical geometry of the problem is taken into account. Imposing the ‘equal masses’ requirement in a spherical geometry, as is commonly done in the literature, leads to significant lateral pressure gradients along internal equipotential surfaces, and thus corresponds to a state of disequilibrium. Compared with the ‘equal pressures’ model we present here, the ‘equal masses’ model always leads to an overestimate of the compensation depth. The magnitude of the discrepancy depends on the density structure of the body and the wavelength of the relevant topography, and is most pronounced when the compensation depth is a substantial fraction of the body’s radius. Compared with the ‘equal pressures’ model, we show that analyses incorporating the ‘equal masses’ model may overestimate crustal thicknesses by as much as ~27% in the case of the lunar highlands, by ~10% in the case of the Martian highlands, and by nearly a factor of two in the case of Saturn’s small icy moon Enceladus.

Read this paper on arXiv…

D. Hemingway and I. Matsuyama
Wed, 1 Mar 17

Comments: 22 pages of text; 3 figures; prepared for submission to GRL


An experimental study of low-velocity impacts into granular material in reduced gravity [EPA]

In order to improve our understanding of landing on small bodies and of asteroid evolution, we use our novel drop tower facility to perform low-velocity (2-40 cm s^-1), shallow impact experiments of a 10 cm diameter aluminum sphere into quartz sand in low effective gravities (~0.2-1 m s^-2). Using in situ accelerometers, we measure the acceleration profile during the impacts and determine the peak accelerations, collision durations and maximum penetration depth. We find that the penetration depth scales linearly with the collision velocity but is independent of the effective gravity for the experimental range tested, and that the collision duration is independent of both the effective gravity and the collision velocity. No rebounds are observed in any of the experiments. Our low-gravity experimental results indicate that the transition from the quasi-static regime to the inertial regime occurs for impact energies two orders of magnitude smaller than in similar impact experiments under terrestrial gravity. The lower energy regime change may be due to the increased hydrodynamic drag of the surface material in our experiments, but may also support the notion that the quasi-static regime reduces as the effective gravity becomes lower.

Read this paper on arXiv…

N. Murdoch, I. Martinez, C. Sunday, et. al.
Tue, 21 Feb 17

Comments: Advance Access publication: January 4 2017

A supernova at 50 pc: Effects on the Earth's atmosphere and biota [EPA]

Recent 60Fe results have suggested that the estimated distances of supernovae in the last few million years should be reduced from 100 pc to 50 pc. Two events or series of events are suggested, one about 2.7 million years to 1.7 million years ago, and another may at 6.5 to 8.7 million years ago. We ask what effects such supernovae are expected to have on the terrestrial atmosphere and biota. Assuming that the Local Bubble was formed before the event being considered, and that the supernova and the Earth were both inside a weak, disordered magnetic field at that time, TeV-PeV cosmic rays at Earth will increase by a factor of a few hundred. Tropospheric ionization will increase proportionately, and the overall muon radiation load on terrestrial organisms will increase by a factor of 150. All return to pre-burst levels within 10kyr. In the case of an ordered magnetic field, effects depend strongly on the field orientation. The upper bound in this case is with a largely coherent field aligned along the line of sight to the supernova, in which case TeV-PeV cosmic ray flux increases are 10^4; in the case of a transverse field they are below current levels. We suggest a substantial increase in the extended effects of supernovae on Earth and in the lethal distance estimate; more work is needed.This paper is an explicit followup to Thomas et al. (2016). We also here provide more detail on the computational procedures used in both works.

Read this paper on arXiv…

A. Melott, B. Thomas, M. Kachelriess, et. al.
Thu, 16 Feb 17

Comments: 5 figures. arXiv admin note: text overlap with arXiv:1605.04926

Texture and composition of Titan's equatorial region inferred from Cassini SAR inversion: Implications for aeolian transport at Saturn's largest moon [EPA]

Sand seas on Titan may reflect the present and past climatic conditions. Understanding the morphodynamics and physico-chemical properties of Titan’s dunes is therefore essential for a better comprehension of the climatic and geological history of the largest Saturn’s moon. We derived quantitatively surface properties (texture, composition) from the modelling of microwave backscattered signal and Monte-Carlo inversion of despeckled Cassini/SAR data over sand sea. We show that dunes and interdunes have significantly different physical properties. Dunes are globally more microwave absorbent than the interdunes. The inter-dunes present multi-scale roughness with a higher dielectric constant than the dunes. Considering the composition, the interdunes are in between the dunes and the radar bright inselbergs, suggesting the presence of a shallow layer of non-mobilized sediment in between the dunes. Additionally potential secondary bedforms, such as ripples and avalanches, may have been detected. Our findings strongly suggest that sand seas evolve under current multi-directional wind regimes. Consequently sediment inventory and climatic conditions are being re-evaluated.

Read this paper on arXiv…

A. Lucas, S. Rodriguez, F. Lemonnier, et. al.
Fri, 10 Feb 17

Comments: 38 pages, 10 figures. to be submitted to EPSL journal

Meridional Circulation Dynamics in a Cyclic Convective Dynamo [SSA]

Surface observations indicate that the speed of the solar meridional circulation in the photosphere varies in anti-phase with the solar cycle. The current explanation for the source of this variation is that inflows into active regions alter the global surface pattern of the meridional circulation. When these localized inflows are integrated over a full hemisphere, they contribute to the slow down of the axisymmetric poleward horizontal component. The behavior of this large scale flow deep inside the convection zone remains largely unknown. Present helioseismic techniques are not sensitive enough to capture the dynamics of this weak large scale flow. Moreover, the large time of integration needed to map the meridional circulation inside the convection zone, also masks some of the possible dynamics on shorter timescales. In this work we examine the dynamics of the meridional circulation that emerges from a 3D MHD global simulation of the solar convection zone. Our aim is to assess and quantify the behavior of meridional circulation deep inside the convection zone, where the cyclic large-scale magnetic field can reach considerable strength. Our analyses indicate that the meridional circulation morphology and amplitude are both highly influenced by the magnetic field, via the impact of magnetic torques on the global angular momentum distribution. A dynamic feature induced by these magnetic torques is the development of a prominent upward flow at mid latitudes in the lower convection zone that occurs near the equatorward edge of the toroidal bands and that peaks during cycle maximum. Globally, the dynamo-generated large-scale magnetic field drives variations in the meridional flow, in stark contrast to the conventional kinematic flux transport view of the magnetic field being advected passively by the flow.

Read this paper on arXiv…

D. Passos, M. Miesch, G. Guerrero, et. al.
Thu, 9 Feb 17

Comments: 26 pages, 16 figures, submitted to A&A

The onset of turbulent rotating dynamos at the low $Pm$ limit [CL]

We demonstrate that the critical magnetic Reynolds number $Rm_c$ for a turbulent non-helical dynamo in the low magnetic Prandtl number $Pm$ limit (i.e. $Pm = Rm/Re \ll 1$) can be significantly reduced if the flow is submitted to global rotation. Even for moderate rotation rates the required energy injection rate can be reduced by a factor more than $10^3$. This strong decrease of the onset is attributed to the reduction of the turbulent fluctuations that makes the flow to have a much larger cut-off length-scale compared to a non-rotating flow of the same Reynolds number. The dynamo thus behaves as if it is driven by laminar behaviour (i.e. high $Pm$ behaviour) even at high values of the Reynolds number (i.e. at low values of $Pm$). Our finding thus points into a new paradigm for the design of new liquid metal dynamo experiments.

Read this paper on arXiv…

K. Seshasayanan, V. Dallas and A. Alexakis
Wed, 1 Feb 17

Comments: 5 pages, 6 figures

The Origins of Asteroidal Rock Disaggregation: Interplay of Thermal Fatigue and Microstructure [EPA]

The distributions of size and chemical composition in the regolith on airless bodies provides clues to the evolution of the solar system. Recently, the regolith on asteroid (25143) Itokawa, visited by the JAXA Hayabusa spacecraft, was observed to contain millimeter to centimeter sized particles. Itokawa boulders commonly display well-rounded profiles and surface textures that appear inconsistent with mechanical fragmentation during meteorite impact; the rounded profiles have been hypothesized to arise from rolling and movement on the surface as a consequence of seismic shaking. We provide a possible explanation of these observations by exploring the primary crack propagation mechanisms during thermal fatigue of a chondrite. We present the in situ evolution of the full-field strains on the surface as a function of temperature and microstructure, and observe and quantify the crack growth during thermal cycling. We observe that the primary fatigue crack path preferentially follows the interfaces between monominerals, leaving them intact after fragmentation. These observations are explained through a microstructure-based finite element model that is quantitatively compared with our experimental results. These results on the interactions of thermal fatigue cracking with the microstructure may ultimately allow us to distinguish between thermally induced fragments and impact products.

Read this paper on arXiv…

K. Hazeli, C. Mir, S. Papanikolaou, et. al.
Mon, 16 Jan 17

Comments: 23 pages, 7 figures

Method of frequency dependent correlations: investigating the variability of total solar irradiance [SSA]

This paper contributes to the field of modeling and hindcasting of the total solar irradiance (TSI) based on different proxy data that extend further back in time than the TSI that is measured from satellites.
We introduce a simple method to analyze persistent frequency-dependent correlations (FDCs) between the time series and use these correlations to hindcast missing historical TSI values. We try to avoid arbitrary choices of the free parameters of the model by computing them using an optimization procedure. The method can be regarded as a general tool for pairs of data sets, where correlating and anticorrelating components can be separated into non-overlapping regions in frequency domain.
Our method is based on low-pass and band-pass filtering with a Gaussian transfer function combined with de-trending and computation of envelope curves.
We find a major controversy between the historical proxies and satellite-measured targets: a large variance is detected between the low-frequency parts of targets, while the low-frequency proxy behavior of different measurement series is consistent with high precision. We also show that even though the rotational signal is not strongly manifested in the targets and proxies, it becomes clearly visible in FDC spectrum.
The application of the new method to solar data allows us to obtain important insights into the different TSI modeling procedures and their capabilities for hindcasting based on the directly observed time intervals.

Read this paper on arXiv…

J. Pelt, M. Kapyla and N. Olspert
Fri, 23 Dec 16

Comments: 19 pages, 5 figures, accepted for publication in Astronomy & Astrophysics

Obliquity of Mercury: influence of the precession of the pericenter and of tides [EPA]

Mercury is expected to deviate from the classical Cassini state since this state is defined for a uniformly precessing rigid planet. We develop an extended Cassini state model that includes the variations (or nutations) in obliquity and deviation induced by the slow precession of the pericenter. The model also describes the constant shift over time in mean obliquity and deviation associated with the short-periodic tidal deformations of Mercury, characterized by the tidal love number k2 and by the ratio k2/Q of the tidal Love number over the tidal quality factor, respectively. This model is then used to interpret Mercury’s orientation, including the deviation from the classical Cassini state, in terms of parameters of Mercury’s interior.
We determine and solve analytically the angular momentum equation, highlighting the respective roles of the pericenter precession and tidal deformations on the spin precession behavior. We also show explicitly that Peale’s equation is sometimes wrongly cited in the literature, resulting in wrong estimates of the polar moment of inertia, and review the importance of many effects that change the determination of the polar moment of inertia from obliquity measurements.
From the observed orientation of Stark et al. (2015b), we estimate that C/MR^2=0.3434+/-0.0102, which is ~0.9% smaller than the estimate by Stark et al. (2015b) themselves. That difference is due to our refinements of the Cassini state model (0.1%) and to their wrong use of Peale’s equation (0.8%). The difference is smaller than the actual precision (3-4%) on the polar moment of inertia but may be of the order of precision that can be reached with BepiColombo mission (<=0.3%).

Read this paper on arXiv…

R. Baland, M. Yseboodt, A. Rivoldini, et. al.
Wed, 21 Dec 16

Comments: N/A

Evaluating the wind-induced mechanical noise on the InSight seismometers [CL]

The SEIS (Seismic Experiment for Interior Structures) instrument onboard the InSight mission to Mars is the critical instrument for determining the interior structure of Mars, the current level of tectonic activity and the meteorite flux. Meeting the performance requirements of the SEIS instrument is vital to successfully achieve these mission objectives. Here we analyse in-situ wind measurements from previous Mars space missions to understand the wind environment that we are likely to encounter on Mars, and then we use an elastic ground deformation model to evaluate the mechanical noise contributions on the SEIS instrument due to the interaction between the Martian winds and the InSight lander. Lander mechanical noise maps that will be used to select the best deployment site for SEIS once the InSight lander arrives on Mars are also presented. We find the lander mechanical noise may be a detectable signal on the InSight seismometers. However, for the baseline SEIS deployment position, the noise is expected to be below the total noise requirement >97% of the time and is, therefore, not expected to endanger the InSight mission objectives.

Read this paper on arXiv…

N. Murdoch, D. Mimoun, R. Garcia, et. al.
Wed, 14 Dec 16

Comments: 32 pages, 16 figures

On subdivision of spherical surface into equal-area cells [IMA]

A new method is proposed to divide a spherical surface into equal-area cells. This method is based on dividing a sphere into several latitudinal bands of near-constant span with further division of each band into equal-area cells. It is simple in construction and provides more uniform latitude step between the latitudinal bands than other simple methods of equal-area tessellation of a spherical surface.

Read this paper on arXiv…

Z. Malkin
Tue, 13 Dec 16

Comments: N/A

An Optical Atmospheric Phenomenon Observed in 1670 over the City of Astrakhan Was not a Mid-Latitude Aurora [CL]

It has been recently claimed (Zolotova and Ponyavin, Solar Phys., 291, 2869, 2016, ZP16 henceforth) that a mid-latitude optical phenomenon, which took place over the city of Astrakhan in July 1670, according to Russian chronicles, was a strong aurora borealis. If this was true, it would imply a very strong or even severe geomagnetic storm during the quietest part of the Maunder minimum. However, as we argue in this article, this conclusion is erroneous and caused by a misinterpretation of the chronicle record. As a result of a thorough analysis of the chronicle text, we show that the described phenomenon occurred during the daylight period of the day (“the last morning hour”), in the south direction (“towards noon”), and its description does not match that of an aurora. The date of the event was also incorrectly interpreted. We conclude that this phenomenon was not a mid-latitude aurora but an atmospheric phenomenon, the so-called sundog (or parhelion) which is a particular type of solar halo. Accordingly, the claim about a strong mid-latitude aurora during the deep Maunder minimum is not correct and should be dismissed.

Read this paper on arXiv…

I. Usoskin, G. Kovaltsov, L. Mishina, et. al.
Mon, 5 Dec 16

Comments: accepted to Solar Physics

Physical Characterization of ~2-meter Diameter Near-Earth Asteroid 2015 TC25: A possible boulder from E-type Asteroid (44) Nysa [EPA]

Small near-Earth asteroids (>20 meters) are interesting because they are progenitors for meteorites in our terrestrial collection. Crucial to our understanding of the effectiveness of our atmosphere in filtering low-strength impactors is the physical characteristics of these small near-Earth asteroids (NEAs). In the past, characterization of small NEAs has been a challenge because of the difficulty in detecting them prior to close Earth flyby. In this study we physically characterized the 2-meter diameter near-Earth asteroid 2015 TC25 using ground-based optical, near-infrared and radar assets during a close flyby of the Earth (distance 69,000 miles) in Oct. 2015. Our observations suggest that its surface composition is similar to aubrites, a rare class of high albedo differentiated meteorites. Aubrites make up only 0.14 % of all know meteorites in our terrestrial meteorite collection. 2015 TC25 is also a very fast rotator with a rotation period of 133 seconds. We compared spectral and dynamical properties of 2015 TC25 and found the best candidate source body in the inner main belt to be the 70-km diameter E-type asteroid (44) Nysa. We attribute difference in spectral slope between the two objects to the lack of regolith on the surface of 2015 TC25. Using the albedo of E-type asteroids (50-60%) we refine the diameter of 2015 TC25 to 2-meters making it one of the smallest NEA ever to be characterized.

Read this paper on arXiv…

V. Reddy, J. Sanchez, W. Bottke, et. al.
Fri, 2 Dec 16

Comments: N/A

Geomagnetically Induced Currents in the Irish Power Network during Geomagnetic Storms [CL]

Geomagnetically induced currents (GICs) are a well-known terrestrial space weather hazard. They occur in power transmission networks and are known to have adverse effects in both high and mid-latitude countries. Here, we study GICs in the Irish power transmission network (geomagnetic latitude 54.7–58.5$^{\circ}$ N) during five geomagnetic storms (06-07 March 2016, 20-21 December 2015, 17-18 March 2015, 29-31 October 2003 and 13-14 March 1989). We simulate electric fields using a plane wave method together with two ground resistivity models, one of which is derived from magnetotelluric measurements (MT model). We then calculate GICs in the 220, 275 and 400~kV transmission network. During the largest of the storm periods studied, the peak electric field was calculated to be as large as 3.8~V~km\textsuperscript{-1}, with associated GICs of up to 23~A using our MT model. Using our homogenous resistivity model, those peak values were 1.46~V~km\textsuperscript{-1} and 25.8~A. We find that three 400 and 275~kV substations are the most likely locations for the Irish transformers to experience large GICs.

Read this paper on arXiv…

S. Blake, P. Gallagher, A. Jones, et. al.
Mon, 28 Nov 16

Comments: 14 pages, 11 Figures, 4 Tables

On the East-West Longitudinally Asymmetric Distribution of Solar Proton Events [CL]

A large data set of 78 solar proton events observed near the Earth’s orbit during 1996-2011 is investigated. An East-West longitudinal (azimuthal) asymmetry is found to exist in the distribution of flare sources of solar proton events. With the same longitudinal separation between the flare sources and the magnetic field line footpoint of observer, the number of the solar proton events originating from solar sources located on the eastern side of the nominal magnetic footpoint of observer is larger than the number of the solar proton events from solar sources located on the western side. We emphasize the importance of this statistical investigation in two aspects. On the one hand, this statistical finding confirms our previous simulation results obtained by numerically solving five-dimensional Fokker-Planck equation of solar energetic particle (SEP) transport. On the other hand, the East-West longitudinally (azimuthally) asymmetric distribution of solar proton events accumulated over a long time period provides an observational evidence for the effects of perpendicular diffusion on the SEP propagation in the heliosphere. We further point out that, in the sense of perpendicular diffusion, our numerical simulations and statistical results of SEP events confirm each other. We discuss in detail the important effects of perpendicular diffusion on the formation of the East-West azimuthal (longitudinal) asymmetry of SEP distribution in two physical scenarios, i.e., ‘multiple SEP events with one spacecraft’ and ‘one SEP event with multiple spacecraft’. A functional relation I_{max}(r)=kr^{-1.7} quantifying the radial dependence of SEP peak intensities is obtained and utilized in the analysis of physical mechanism. The relationship between our results and those of Dresing et al. is also discussed.

Read this paper on arXiv…

H. He and W. Wan
Wed, 19 Oct 16

Comments: Published in MNRAS

Supernova enrichment of planetary systems in low-mass star clusters [EPA]

The presence and abundance of short lived radioisotopes (SLRs) $^{26}$Al and $^{60}$Fe in chondritic meteorites implies that the Sun formed in the vicinity of one or more massive stars that exploded as supernovae (SNe). Massive stars are more likely to form in massive star clusters ($>$1000 M$_{\odot}$) than lower mass clusters. However, photoevaporation of protoplanetary discs from massive stars and dynamical interactions with passing stars can inhibit planet formation in clusters with radii of $\sim$1 pc. We investigate whether low-mass (50 – 200 M$_{\odot}$) star clusters containing one or two massive stars are a more likely avenue for early Solar system enrichment as they are more dynamically quiescent.
We analyse $N$-body simulations of the evolution of these low-mass clusters and find that a similar fraction of stars experience supernova enrichment than in high mass clusters, despite their lower densities. This is due to two-body relaxation, which causes a significant expansion before the first supernova even in clusters with relatively low (100 stars pc$^{-3}$) initial densities. However, because of the high number of low mass clusters containing one or two massive stars, the absolute number of enriched stars is the same, if not higher than for more populous clusters. Our results show that direct enrichment of protoplanetary discs from supernovae occurs as frequently in low mass clusters containing one or two massive stars (>20 M$_{\odot}$) as in more populous star clusters (1000 M$_\odot$). This relaxes the constraints on the direct enrichment scenario and therefore the birth environment of the Solar System.

Read this paper on arXiv…

R. Nicholson and R. Parker
Wed, 19 Oct 16

Comments: 8 pages, 7 figures, accepted for publication in MNRAS

Activation of MHD reconnection on ideal timescales [CL]

Magnetic reconnection in laboratory, space and astrophysical plasmas is often invoked to explain explosive energy release and particle acceleration. However, the timescales involved in classical models within the macroscopic MHD regime are far too slow to match the observations. Here we revisit the tearing instability by performing visco-resistive two-dimensional numerical simulations of the evolution of thin current sheets, for a variety of initial configurations and of values of the Lunquist number $S$, up to $10^7$. Results confirm that when the critical aspect ratio of $S^{1/3}$ is reached in the reconnecting current sheets, the instability proceeds on ideal (Alfv\’enic) macroscopic timescales, as required to explain observations. Moreover, the same scaling is seen to apply also to the local, secondary reconnection events triggered during the nonlinear phase of the tearing instability, thus accelerating the cascading process to increasingly smaller spatial and temporal scales. The process appears to be robust, as the predicted scaling is measured both in inviscid simulations and when using a Prandtl number $P=1$ in the viscous regime.

Read this paper on arXiv…

S. Landi, E. Papini, L. Zanna, et. al.
Mon, 17 Oct 16

Comments: Accepted for publication in Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion

Approaching a realistic force balance in geodynamo simulations [CL]

Earth sustains its magnetic field by a dynamo process driven by convection in the liquid outer core. Geodynamo simulations have been successful in reproducing many observed properties of the geomagnetic field. However, while theoretical considerations suggest that flow in the core is governed by a balance between Lorentz force, rotational force and buoyancy (called MAC balance for Magnetic, Archimedean, Coriolis) with only minute roles for viscous and inertial forces, dynamo simulations must employ viscosity values that are many orders of magnitude larger than in the core due to computational constraints. In typical geodynamo models viscous and inertial forces are not much smaller than the Coriolis force and the Lorentz force plays a sub-dominant role. This has led to conclusions that these simulations are viscously controlled and do not represent the physics of the geodynamo. Here we show by a direct analysis of the relevant forces that a MAC balance can be achieved when the viscosity is reduced to values close to the current practical limit. Lorentz force, buoyancy and the uncompensated (by pressure) part of the Coriolis force are of very similar strength, whereas viscous and inertia are smaller by a factor of at least 20 in the bulk of the fluid volume. Compared to non-magnetic convection at otherwise identical parameters, the dynamo flow is of larger scale, less invariant parallel to the rotation axis (less geostrophic) and convection transports twice as much heat, all of which is expected when the Lorentz force strongly influences the convection properties.

Read this paper on arXiv…

R. Yadav, T. Gastine, U. Christensen, et. al.
Wed, 12 Oct 16

Comments: Accepted for publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)

On the astronomical origin of the Hallstatt oscillation found in radiocarbon and climate records throughout the Holocene [CL]

An oscillation with a period of about 2100-2500 years, the Hallstatt cycle, is found in cosmogenic radioisotopes (C-14 and Be-10) and in paleoclimate records throughout the Holocene. Herein we demonstrate the astronomical origin of this cycle. Namely, this oscillation is coherent to the major stable resonance involving the four Jovian planets – Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune – whose period is p=2318 yr. The Hallstatt cycle could derive from the rhythmic variation of the circularity of the solar system disk assuming that this dynamics could eventually modulate the solar wind and, consequently, the incoming cosmic ray flux and/or the interplanetary/cosmic dust concentration around the Earth-Moon system. The orbit of the planetary mass center (PMC) relative to the Sun is used as a proxy. We analyzed how the instantaneous eccentricity vector of this virtual orbit varies from 13,000 B. C. to 17,000 A. D.. We found that it undergoes kind of pulsations as it clearly presents rhythmic contraction and expansion patterns with a 2318 yr period together with a number of already known faster oscillations associated to the planetary orbital stable resonances. We found that a fast expansion of the Sun-PMC orbit followed by a slow contraction appears to prevent cosmic rays to enter within the system inner region while a slow expansion followed by a fast contraction favors it. Similarly, the same dynamics could modulate the amount of interplanetary/cosmic dust falling on Earth. These would then cause both the radionucleotide production and climate change by means of a cloud/albedo modulation. Other stable orbital resonance frequencies (e.g. at periods of 20 yr, 45 yr, 60 yr, 85 yr, 159-171-185 yr, etc.) are found in radionucleotide, solar, aurora and climate records, as determined in the scientific literature. Thus, the result supports a planetary theory of solar and/or climate variation.

Read this paper on arXiv…

N. Scafetta, F. Milani, A. Bianchini, et. al.
Wed, 12 Oct 16

Comments: 36 pages, 14 figures, 1 table

Spectral analysis of short period of K indices registered in Huancayo Geomagnetic Observatory [IMA]

Wavelet spectral analysis is applied to the daily indices K (SK) registered in Huancayo geomagnetic observatory from 2000.0 to 2015.0, it has become possible to identify predominant periodic components with a confidence level of 95%. In particular we have investigated the periodicity of 27.0 days and its 13.5, 9.0 and 6.8 harmonics, related to the fundamental period of solar rotation effects. A special analysis registered on periods of 59.0 days might be related to the double period of 29.53 days corresponding to the synodic month. The manifestation of the periods of 182.6, 365 and 730 days corresponding to the harmonics of the seasonal variation of the annual cycle is also observed. An important observation is that the global predominant periods registered 6.8 and 9.0 days, in the years 2009, 2013 and 2014 its effect is too small or null, those periods corresponds to the minimum and maximum solar activity. On the other hand, it is observed that the order of predominance of the harmonic period solar rotation are different for each solar cycle (Solar Cycle 23: 9.0, 13.5, 27.0 and 6.8 days; solar cycle 24: 27.0, 13.5, 9.0 and 6.8 days), and it is weaker contribution in the solar cycle 24 with respect to the solar cycle 23.

Read this paper on arXiv…

D. Rosales and E. Vidal
Tue, 11 Oct 16

Comments: 5 pages,1 figure, in Spanish

Inertia-less convectively-driven dynamo models in the limit of low Rossby number [CL]

Compositional convection is thought to be an important energy source for magnetic field generation within planetary interiors. The Prandtl number, $Pr$, characterizing compositional convection is significantly larger than unity, suggesting that the inertial force may not be important on the small scales of convection. We develop asymptotic dynamo models for the case of small Rossby number and large Prandtl number in which inertia is absent on the convective scale. The relevant diffusivity parameter for this limit is the compositional Roberts number, $q = D/\eta$, which is the ratio of compositional and magnetic diffusivities. Dynamo models are developed for both order one $q$ and the more geophysically relevant low $q$ limit. For both cases the ratio of magnetic to kinetic energy densities, $M$, is asymptotically large and reflects the fact that Alfv\’en waves have been filtered from the dynamics. Taken together with previous investigations of asymptotic dynamo models for $Pr=O(1)$, our results show that the ratio $M$ is not a useful indicator of dominant force balances in the momentum equation since many different asymptotic limits of $M$ can be obtained without changing the leading order geostrophic balance. The present models show that inertia is not a requirement for driving low $q$, large-scale dynamos.

Read this paper on arXiv…

M. Calkins, K. Julien and S. Tobias
Thu, 15 Sep 16

Comments: 22 pages

Solar Activity and Transformer Failures in the Greek National Electric Grid [CL]

We study both the short term and long term effects of solar activity on the large transformers (150kV and 400kV) of the Greek national electric grid. We use data analysis and various analytic and statistical methods and models. Contrary to the common belief in PPC Greece, we see that there are considerable both short term (immediate) and long term effects of solar activity onto large transformers in a mid-latitude country (latitude approx. 35 – 41 degrees North) like Greece. Our results can be summarized as follows: For the short term effects: During 1989-2010 there were 43 stormy days (namely days with for example Ap larger or equal to 100) and we had 19 failures occurring during a stormy day plus or minus 3 days and 51 failures occurring during a stormy day plus or minus 7 days. All these failures can be directly related to Geomagnetically Induced Currents (GICs). Explicit cases are presented. For the long term effects we have two main results: The annual transformer failure number for the period of study 1989-2010 follows the solar activity pattern (11 year periodicity, bell-shaped graph). Yet the maximum number of transformer failures occur 3-4 years after the maximum of solar activity. There is statistical correlation between solar activity expressed using various newly defined long term solar activity indices and the annual number of transformer failures. These new long term solar activity indices were defined using both local (from geomagnetic stations in Greece) and global (planetary averages) geomagnetic data. Applying both linear and non-linear statistical regression we compute the regression equations and the corresponding coefficients of determination.

Read this paper on arXiv…

I. Zois
Tue, 13 Sep 16

Comments: 45 pages,a summary will be presented at the International Conference on Mathematical Modeling in Physical Sciences, 1-5 September 2013, Prague, Czech Republic.Some preliminary results were presented during the 8th European Space Weather Week in Namur, Belgium, 2011. Another part was presented at the 9th European Space Weather Week at the Acad\’emie Royale de Belgique, Brussels, Belgium 2012

Reversal and amplification of zonal flows by boundary enforced thermal wind [CL]

Zonal flows in rapidly-rotating celestial objects such as the Sun, gas or ice giants form in a variety of surface patterns and amplitudes. Whereas the differential rotation on the Sun, Jupiter and Saturn features a super-rotating equatorial region, the ice giants, Neptune and Uranus harbour an equatorial jet slower than the planetary rotation. Global numerical models covering the optically thick, deep-reaching and rapidly rotating convective envelopes of gas giants reproduce successfully the prograde jet at the equator. In such models, convective columns shaped by the dominant Coriolis force typically exhibit a consistent prograde tilt. Hence angular momentum is pumped away from the rotation axis via Reynolds stresses. Those models are found to be strongly geostrophic, hence a modulation of the zonal flow structure along the axis of rotation, e.g. introduced by persistent latitudinal temperature gradients, seems of minor importance. Within our study we stimulate these thermal gradients and the resulting ageostrophic flows by applying an axisymmetric and equatorially symmetric outer boundary heat flux anomaly ($Y_{20}$) with variable amplitude and sign. Such a forcing pattern mimics the thermal effect of intense solar or stellar irradiation. Our results suggest that the ageostrophic flows are linearly amplified with the forcing amplitude $q^\star$ leading to a more pronounced dimple of the equatorial jet (alike Jupiter). The geostrophic flow contributions, however, are suppressed for weak $q^\star$, but inverted and re-amplified once $q^\star$ exceeds a critical value. The inverse geostrophic differential rotation is consistently maintained by now also inversely tilted columns and reminiscent of zonal flow profiles observed for the ice giants. Analysis of the main force balance and parameter studies further foster these results.

Read this paper on arXiv…

W. Dietrich, T. Gastine and J. Wicht
Fri, 9 Sep 16

Comments: N/A

Scaling regimes in spherical shell rotating convection [CL]

Rayleigh-B\’enard convection in rotating spherical shells can be considered as a simplified analogue of many astrophysical and geophysical fluid flows. Here, we use three-dimensional direct numerical simulations to study this physical process. We construct a dataset of more than 200 numerical models that cover a broad parameter range with Ekman numbers spanning $3\times 10^{-7} \leq E \leq 10^{-1}$, Rayleigh numbers within the range $10^3 < Ra < 2\times 10^{10}$ and a Prandtl number unity. We investigate the scaling behaviours of both local (length scales, boundary layers) and global (Nusselt and Reynolds numbers) properties across various physical regimes from onset of rotating convection to weakly-rotating convection. Close to critical, the convective flow is dominated by a triple force balance between viscosity, Coriolis force and buoyancy. For larger supercriticalities, a subset of our numerical data approaches the asymptotic diffusivity-free scaling of rotating convection $Nu\sim Ra^{3/2}E^{2}$ in a narrow fraction of the parameter space delimited by $6\,Ra_c \leq Ra \leq 0.4\,E^{-8/5}$. Using a decomposition of the viscous dissipation rate into bulk and boundary layer contributions, we establish a theoretical scaling of the flow velocity that accurately describes the numerical data. In rapidly-rotating turbulent convection, the fluid bulk is controlled by a triple force balance between Coriolis, inertia and buoyancy, while the remaining fraction of the dissipation can be attributed to the viscous friction in the Ekman layers. Beyond $Ra \simeq E^{-8/5}$, the rotational constraint on the convective flow is gradually lost and the flow properties vary to match the regime changes between rotation-dominated and non-rotating convection. The quantity $Ra E^{12/7}$ provides an accurate transition parameter to separate rotating and non-rotating convection.

Read this paper on arXiv…

T. Gastine, J. Wicht and J. Aubert
Fri, 9 Sep 16

Comments: 42 pages, 20 figures, 3 tables, in revision in JFM

Does the Planetary Dynamo Go Cycling On? Re-examining the Evidence for Cycles in Magnetic Reversal Rate [EPA]

The record of reversals of the geomagnetic field has played an integral role in the development of plate tectonic theory. Statistical analyses of the reversal record are aimed at detailing patterns and linking those patterns to core-mantle processes. The geomagnetic polarity timescale is a dynamic record and new paleomagnetic and geochronologic data provide additional detail. In this paper, we examine the periodicity revealed in the reversal record back to 375 Ma using Fourier analysis. Four significant peaks were found in the reversal power spectra within the 16-40-million-year range. Plotting the function constructed from the sum of the frequencies of the proximal peaks yield a transient 26 Myr periodicity, suggesting chaotic motion with a periodic attractor. The possible 16 Myr periodicity, a previously recognized result, may be correlated with “pulsation” of mantle plumes.

Read this paper on arXiv…

A. Melott, A. Pivarunas, J. Meert, et. al.
Mon, 29 Aug 16

Comments: 4 figures. Submitted to Earth and Planetary Science Letters

Turbulent thermal diffusion in strongly stratified turbulence: theory and experiments [CL]

Turbulent thermal diffusion is a combined effect of the temperature stratified turbulence and inertia of small particles. It causes the appearance of a non-diffusive turbulent flux of particles in the direction of the turbulent heat flux. This non-diffusive turbulent flux of particles is proportional to the product of the mean particle number density and the effective velocity of inertial particles. The theory of this effect has been previously developed only for small temperature gradients and small Stokes numbers (Phys. Rev. Lett. {\bf 76}, 224, 1996). In this study a generalized theory of turbulent thermal diffusion for arbitrary temperature gradients and Stokes numbers has been developed. The laboratory experiments in the oscillating grid turbulence and in the multi-fan produced turbulence have been performed to validate the theory of turbulent thermal diffusion in strongly stratified turbulent flows. It has been shown that the ratio of the effective velocity of inertial particles to the characteristic vertical turbulent velocity for large Reynolds numbers is less than 1. The effective velocity of inertial particles as well as the effective coefficient of turbulent thermal diffusion increase with Stokes numbers reaching the maximum at small Stokes numbers and decreases for larger Stokes numbers. The effective coefficient of turbulent thermal diffusion also decreases with the mean temperature gradient. It has been demonstrated that the developed theory is in a good agreement with the results of the laboratory experiments.

Read this paper on arXiv…

G. Amir, N. Bar, A. Eidelman, et. al.
Thu, 18 Aug 16

Comments: 10 pages, 6 figures, REVTEX4-1

Analogues of glacial valley profiles in particle mechanics and in cosmology [CL]

An ordinary differential equation describing the transverse profiles of U-shaped glacial valleys, derived with a variational principle, has two formal analogies which we analyze. First, an analogy with point particle mechanics completes the description of the solutions. Second, an analogy with the Friedmann equation of relativistic cosmology shows that the analogue of a glacial valley profile is a universe with a future singularity but respecting the weak energy condition. The equation unveils also a Big Freeze singularity, which was not observed before for positive curvature index.

Read this paper on arXiv…

V. Faraoni and A. Cardini
Tue, 9 Aug 2016

Comments: 26 pages, 5 figures

Isotopic enrichment of forming planetary systems from supernova pollution [EPA]

Heating by short-lived radioisotopes (SLRs) such as aluminum-26 and iron-60 fundamentally shaped the thermal history and interior structure of Solar System planetesimals during the early stages of planetary formation. The subsequent thermo-mechanical evolution, such as internal differentiation or rapid volatile degassing, yields important implications for the final structure, composition and evolution of terrestrial planets. SLR-driven heating in the Solar System is sensitive to the absolute abundance and homogeneity of SLRs within the protoplanetary disk present during the condensation of the first solids. In order to explain the diverse compositions found for extrasolar planets, it is important to understand the distribution of SLRs in active planet formation regions (star clusters) during their first few Myr of evolution. By constraining the range of possible effects, we show how the imprint of SLRs can be extrapolated to exoplanetary systems and derive statistical predictions for the distribution of aluminum-26 and iron-60 based on N-body simulations of typical to large clusters (1000-10000 stars) with a range of initial conditions. We quantify the pollution of protoplanetary disks by supernova ejecta and show that the likelihood of enrichment levels similar to or higher than the Solar System can vary considerably, depending on the cluster morphology. Furthermore, many enriched systems show an excess in radiogenic heating compared to Solar System levels, which implies that the formation and evolution of planetesimals could vary significantly depending on the birth environment of their host stars.

Read this paper on arXiv…

T. Lichtenberg, R. Parker and M. Meyer
Fri, 5 Aug 16

Comments: 15 pages, 8 figures, 4 tables; accepted for publication in MNRAS; associated video files can be found at this http URL

Mercury's gravity, tides, and spin from MESSENGER radio science data [EPA]

We analyze radio tracking data obtained during 1311 orbits of the MESSENGER spacecraft in the period March 2011 to April 2014. A least-squares minimization of the residuals between observed and computed values of two-way range and Doppler allows us to solve for a model describing Mercury’s gravity, tidal response, and spin state. We use a spherical harmonic representation of the gravity field to degree and order 40 and report error bars corresponding to 10 times the formal uncertainties of the fit. Our estimate of the product of Mercury’s mass and the gravitational constant, $GM = (22031.87404 \pm 9 \times 10^{-4})$ km$^{3}$s$^{-2}$, is in excellent agreement with published results. Our solution for the geophysically important second-degree coefficients ($\bar{C}_{2,0} = -2.25100 \times 10^{-5} \pm 1.3 \times 10^{-9}$, $\bar{C}_{2,2} = 1.24973 \times 10^{-5} \pm 1.2 \times 10^{-9}$) confirms previous estimates to better than 0.4\% and, therefore, inferences about Mercury’s moment of inertia and interior structure. Our estimate of the tidal Love number $k_2 = 0.464 \pm 0.023$ indicates that Mercury’s mantle may be hotter and weaker than previously thought. Our spin state solution suggests that gravity-based estimates of Mercury’s spin axis orientation are marginally consistent with previous measurements of the orientation of the crust.

Read this paper on arXiv…

A. Verma and J. Margot
Fri, 5 Aug 16

Comments: Accepted for publication in J. Geophys. Res. – planets

Production of $^3$He in Rocks by Reactions Induced by Particles of the Nuclear-Active and Muon Components of Cosmic Rays: Geological and Petrological Implications [EPA]

The paper presents data on the production of the $^3$He nuclide in rocks under the effect of cosmic-ray particles. The origin of the nuclide in the ground in neutron- and proton-induced spallation reactions, reactions induced by high-energy muons, and negative muon capture reactions is analyzed. The cross sections of reactions producing $^3$He and $^3$H are calculated by means of numerical simulations with the GEANT4 simulation toolkit. The production rate of the $^3$He nuclide in the ground is evaluated for the average level of solar activity at high geomagnetic latitudes and at sea level. It is proved that the production of $^3$He in near-surface ground layers by spallation reactions induced by cosmic-ray protons may be approximately 10% of the total production rate of cosmogenic $^3$He. At depths of 10-50 m.w.e., the accumulation of $^3$He is significantly contributed by reactions induced by cosmic-ray muons. Data presented in the paper make it possible to calculate the accumulation rate of $^3$He in a rock depending on depth that is necessary for the evaluation of the exposure time of the magmatic or metamorphic complex on the Earth’s surface ($^3$He dating).

Read this paper on arXiv…

A. Nesterenok and O. Yakubovich
Mon, 1 Aug 16

Comments: 18 pages, 6 figures

Reconstruction of Solar Subsurfaces by Local Helioseismology [SSA]

Local helioseismology has opened new frontiers in our quest for understanding of the internal dynamics and dynamo on the Sun. Local helioseismology reconstructs subsurface structures and flows by extracting coherent signals of acoustic waves traveling through the interior and carrying information about subsurface perturbations and flows, from stochastic oscillations observed on the surface. The initial analysis of the subsurface flow maps reconstructed from the 5 years of SDO/HMI data by time-distance helioseismology reveals the great potential for studying and understanding of the dynamics of the quiet Sun and active regions, and the evolution with the solar cycle. In particular, our results show that the emergence and evolution of active regions are accompanied by multi-scale flow patterns, and that the meridional flows display the North-South asymmetry closely correlating with the magnetic activity. The latitudinal variations of the meridional circulation speed, which are probably related to the large-scale converging flows, are mostly confined in shallow subsurface layers. Therefore, these variations do not necessarily affect the magnetic flux transport. The North-South asymmetry is also pronounced in the variations of the differential rotation (“torsional oscillations”). The calculations of a proxy of the subsurface kinetic helicity density show that the helicity does not vary during the solar cycle, and that supergranulation is a likely source of the near-surface helicity.

Read this paper on arXiv…

A. Kosovichev and J. Zhao
Wed, 20 Jul 16

Comments: 17 pages, 10 figures, in “Cartography of the Sun and the Stars”, Editors: Rozelot, Jean-Pierre, Neiner, Coralie

Relativistic Dynamics of Relative Motions (I): Post-Newtonian Extension of the Hill-Clohessy-Wiltshire Equations [EPA]

With continuous advances in technologies related to deep space ranging and satellite gravity gradiometry, corrections from general relativity to the dynamics of relative orbital motions will certainly become important. In this work, we extend,in a systematic way, the Hill-Clohessy-Wiltshire Equations to include the complete first order post-Newtonian effects from general relativity. Within certain short time limit, post-Newtonian corrections to general periodic solutions of the Hill-Clohessy-Wiltshire Equations are also worked out.

Read this paper on arXiv…

P. Xu and L. Qiang
Tue, 19 Jul 16

Comments: 22 pages, 3 figures

Application of the Allan Variance to Time Series Analysis in Astrometry and Geodesy: A Review [IMA]

The Allan variance (AVAR) was introduced 50 years ago as a statistical tool for assessing of the frequency standards deviations. For the past decades, AVAR has increasingly being used in geodesy and astrometry to assess the noise characteristics in geodetic and astrometric time series. A specific feature of astrometric and geodetic measurements, as compared with the clock measurements, is that they are generally associated with uncertainties; thus, an appropriate weighting should be applied during data analysis. Besides, some physically connected scalar time series naturally form series of multi-dimensional vectors. For example, three station coordinates time series $X$, $Y$, and $Z$ can be combined to analyze 3D station position variations. The classical AVAR is not intended for processing unevenly weighted and/or multi-dimensional data. Therefore, AVAR modifications, namely weighted AVAR (WAVAR), multi-dimensional AVAR (MAVAR), and weighted multi-dimensional AVAR (WMAVAR), were introduced to overcome these deficiencies. In this paper, a brief review is given of the experience of using AVAR and its modifications in processing astro-geodetic time series.

Read this paper on arXiv…

Z. Malkin
Tue, 19 Jul 16

Comments: N/A

Large-scale-vortex dynamos in planar rotating convection [CL]

Several recent studies have demonstrated how large-scale vortices may arise spontaneously in rotating planar convection. Here we examine the dynamo properties of such flows in rotating Boussinesq convection. For moderate values of the magnetic Reynolds number ($100 \lesssim Rm \lesssim 550$, with $Rm$ based on the box depth and the convective velocity), a large-scale (i.e. system-size) magnetic field is generated. The amplitude of the magnetic energy oscillates in time, out of phase with the oscillating amplitude of the large-scale vortex. The dynamo mechanism relies on those components of the flow that have length scales lying between that of the large-scale vortex and the typical convective cell size; smaller-scale flows are not required. The large-scale vortex plays a crucial role in the magnetic induction despite being essentially two-dimensional. For larger magnetic Reynolds numbers, the dynamo is small scale, with a magnetic energy spectrum that peaks at the scale of the convective cells. In this case, the small-scale magnetic field suppresses the large-scale vortex by disrupting the correlations between the convective velocities that allow it to form.

Read this paper on arXiv…

C. Guervilly, D. Hughes and C. Jones
Tue, 5 Jul 16

Comments: 25 pages, 17 figures, submitted to J. Fluid Mech

Internally heated convection beneath a poor conductor [CL]

We consider convection in an internally heated layer of fluid that is bounded below by a perfect insulator and above by a poor conductor. The poorly conducting boundary is modelled by a fixed heat flux. Using solely analytical methods, we find linear and energy stability thresholds for the static state, and we construct a lower bound on the mean temperature that applies to all flows. The linear stability analysis yields a Rayleigh number above which the static state is linearly unstable ($R_L$), and the energy analysis yields a Rayleigh number below which it is globally stable ($R_E$). For various boundary conditions on the velocity, exact expressions for $R_L$ and $R_E$ are found using long-wavelength asymptotics. Each $R_E$ is strictly smaller than the corresponding $R_L$ but is within 1%. The lower bound on the mean temperature is proven for no-slip velocity boundary conditions using the background method. The bound guarantees that the mean temperature of the fluid, relative to that of the top boundary, grows with the heating rate ($H$) no slower than $H^{2/3}$.

Read this paper on arXiv…

D. Goluskin
Thu, 30 Jun 16

Comments: 20 pages, 5 figures

Lightning climatology of exoplanets and brown dwarfs guided by Solar System data [EPA]

Clouds form on extrasolar planets and brown dwarfs where lightning could occur. Lightning is a tracer of atmospheric convection, cloud formation and ionization processes as known from the Solar System, and may be significant for the formation of prebiotic molecules. We study lightning climatology for the different atmospheric environments of Earth, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn. We present lightning distribution maps for Earth, Jupiter and Saturn, and flash densities for these planets and Venus, based on optical and/or radio measurements from the WWLLN and STARNET radio networks, the LIS/OTD satellite instruments, the Galileo, Cassini, New Horizons and Venus Express spacecraft. We also present flash densities calculated for several phases of two volcano eruptions, Eyjafjallaj\”okull’s (2010) and Mt Redoubt’s (2009). We estimate lightning rates for sample, transiting and directly imaged extrasolar planets and brown dwarfs. Based on the large variety of exoplanets, six categories are suggested for which we use the lightning occurrence information from the Solar System. We examine lightning energy distributions for Earth, Jupiter and Saturn. We discuss how strong stellar activity may support lightning activity. We provide a lower limit of the total number of flashes that might occur on transiting planets during their full transit as input for future studies. We find that volcanically very active planets might show the largest lightning flash densities. When applying flash densities of the large Saturnian storm from 2010/11, we find that the exoplanet HD 189733b would produce high lightning occurrence even during its short transit.

Read this paper on arXiv…

G. Hodosan, C. Helling, R. Asensio-Torres, et. al.
Thu, 30 Jun 16

Comments: 24 pages, 7 figures, 7 tables, accepted for publication in MNRAS

Reply to comment by K.A. Duderstadt et al. on "Atmospheric ionization by high-fluence, hard spectrum solar proton events and their probable appearance in the ice core archive" [CL]

Duderstadt et al. [2016b] comment that the Melott et al. [2016] study of nitrate formation by solar proton events (SPEs) and comparison with the ice core archive is “fundamentally flawed,” because it does not include pre-existing HNO3 in the stratosphere. We show that they exaggerate both the enhancement predicted by our findings and pre-industrial HNO3 levels in their model, and fail to prove this assertion. Our feasibility study matched expected SPE nitrate production with ground truth measurements. It is not clear that their approach is more realistic and absence of a detailed mechanism does not disprove our results. Models can be no better than the information they are provided and in this case there continue to be significant unknowns and uncertainties, especially in the role of polar stratospheric clouds (PSCs) and possible interactions with cosmic rays that constitute lower boundary conditions. Duderstadt et al. [2014; 2016a] used incomplete, poorly-constrained and incorrect initial and boundary conditions, and they continue to advocate on the basis of uncertain results. Meanwhile, Smart et al. [2014] identified a series of ice core nitrate spikes that have since been confirmed in 10Be by McCracken and Beer [2015]. Melott et al. [2016] computationally reproduced the ionization profile of the only major balloon measurements to date. We show that our calculated nitrate enhancement is consistent with measured results, given current levels of uncertainty, and that extreme SPEs can potentially produce occasional nitrate spikes with hundreds of percent increases. Instead of repeating old arguments to dismiss nitrates as proxies of SPEs, it is past time for a dedicated, fine-resolution, multi-parameter, replicate ice core field campaign to resolve this debate.

Read this paper on arXiv…

C. Laird, A. Melott, B. Thomas, et. al.
Wed, 29 Jun 16

Comments: Invited reply, submitted to JGR-Atmospheres

Comment on "Atmospheric ionization by high-fluence, hard spectrum solar proton events and their probable appearance in the ice core archive" by A.L. Melott et al [CL]

Melott et al. [2016] suggest that individual solar proton events (SPEs) are detectable as nitrate ion spikes in ice cores. They use the high fluence, high energy (hard spectrum) SPE of 23 February 1956 to calculate an enhancement of HNO3 from the surface to 46 km that is equivalent to a ~120 ng cm-2 nitrate ion spike observed in the GISP2H ice core. The Melott et al. [2016] approach is fundamentally flawed, since it considers only the absolute column burden of SPE-produced nitrate and not the pre-existing nitrate in the stratosphere. Modeling studies supported by extensive observations [Duderstadt et al., 2014, 2016, and this comment] show background HNO3 in the lower and middle stratosphere equivalent to 2000 to 3000 ng cm-2 nitrate. These high levels of background nitrate must also be included when estimating SPE enhancements to the deposition of nitrate ions that might eventually be preserved in an ice core. The 1956 SPE results in less than a 5% increase in the column burden of atmospheric HNO3, not large enough to explain the nitrate spike seen in the GISP2H ice core. Even extreme SPE enhancements cannot explain nitrate peaks (typically hundreds of percent increases) observed in the ice record [Duderstadt et al., 2016]. Realistic mechanisms linking nitrate ions in ice cores to SPEs have not been established. It is time to move the search for indicators of SPEs away from nitrate ions: Nitrate ions cannot be used as proxies for individual SPEs in the ice core record.

Read this paper on arXiv…

K. Duderstadt, J. Dibb, C. Jackman, et. al.
Mon, 27 Jun 16

Comments: 17 pages, 3 figures

Modeling glacial flow on and onto Pluto's Sputnik Planum [EPA]

Observations of Pluto’s surface made by the New Horizons spacecraft indicates present-day nitrogen ice glaciation in and around the basin known as Sputnik Planum. Motivated by these observations, we have developed an evolutionary glacial flow model of solid nitrogen ice taking into account its published thermophysical and rheologies properties. This model assumes that glacial ice layers flow laminarly and have low aspect ratios which permits a vertically integrated mathematical formulation. We assess the conditions for the validity of laminar nitrogen ice motion by revisiting the problem of the onset of solid-state buoyant convection of nitrogen ice for a variety of bottom thermal boundary conditions. Subject to uncertainties in nitrogen ice rheology, nitrogen ice layers are estimated to flow laminarly for thicknesses less than 400-1000 meters. The resulting mass-flux formulation for when the nitrogen ice flows as a laminar dry glacier is characterized by an Arrhenius-Glen functional form. The flow model developed is used here to qualitatively answer some questions motivated by observed glacial flow features found on Sputnik Planum. We find that the wavy transverse dark features found along the northern shoreline of Sputnik Planum may be a transitory imprint of shallow topography just beneath the ice surface suggesting the possibility that a major shoreward flow event happened relatively recently within the last few hundred years. Model results also support the interpretation that the prominent darkened features resembling flow lobes observed along the eastern shoreline of the Sputnik Planum basin may be a result of wet nitrogen glacial ice flowing into the basin from the pitted highlands of eastern Tombaugh Regio.

Read this paper on arXiv…

O. Umurhan, A. Howard, J. Moore, et. al.
Tue, 21 Jun 16

Comments: Submitted to ICARUS special issue on Pluto. 23 Pages, 13 Figures

The combined effect of precession and convection on the dynamo action [EPA]

To understand the generation of the Earth’s and planetary magnetic fields, we investigate numerically the combined effect of precession and convection on the dynamo action in a spherical shell. The convection alone, the precession alone and the combined effect of convection and precession are studied at the low Ekman number at which the precessing flow is already unstable. The key result is that although the precession or convection alone is not strong to support the dynamo action the combined effect of precession and convection can support the dynamo action because of the resonance of precessional and convective instabilities. This result may interpret why the geodynamo maintains for such a long history compared to the Martian dynamo.

Read this paper on arXiv…

X. Wei
Thu, 16 Jun 16

Comments: 4 figures

Subcritical convection in a rapidly rotating sphere at low Prandtl number [CL]

We study non-linear convection in a low Prandtl number fluid ($Pr = 0.01-0.1$) in a rapidly rotating sphere with internal heating. We use a numerical model based on the quasi-geostrophic approximation, in which variations of the axial vorticity along the rotation axis are neglected, whereas the temperature field is fully three-dimensional. We identify two separate branches of convection close to onset: (i) a well-known weak branch for Ekman numbers greater than $10^{-6}$, which is continuous at the onset (supercritical bifurcation) and consists of a superposition of thermal Rossby waves, and (ii) a novel strong branch at lower Ekman numbers, which is discontinuous at the onset. The strong branch becomes subcritical for Ekman numbers of the order of $10^{-8}$. On the strong branch, the Reynolds number of the flow is greater than $10^3$, and a strong zonal flow with multiple jets develops, even close to the non-linear onset of convection. We find that the subcriticality is amplified by decreasing the Prandtl number. The two branches can co-exist for intermediate Ekman numbers, leading to hysteresis ($Ek = 10^{-6}$, $Pr = 0.01$). Non-linear oscillations are observed near the onset of convection for $Ek = 10^{-7}$ and $Pr = 0.1$.

Read this paper on arXiv…

C. Guervilly and P. Cardin
Wed, 25 May 16

Comments: 31 pages, 16 figures, submitted to JFM

Seasonal and Lunar month periods observed in natural neutron flux at high altitude [CL]

Air radon concentration measurement is useful for research on geophysical effects, but it is strongly sensitive to site geology and many geophysical and microclimatic processes such as wind, ventilation, air humidity and so on that induce very big fluctuations on the concentration of radon in air. On the contrary, monitoring the radon concentration in soil by measuring the thermal neutron flux reduces environmental effects. In this paper we report some experimental results on the natural thermal neutron flux as well as the concentration of air radon and its variations at 4300 m a.s.l. These results were obtained with unshielded thermal neutron scintillation detectors (en-detectors) and radon monitors located inside the ARGO-YBJ experimental hall. The correlation of these variations with the lunar month and 1-year period is undoubtedly confirmed. A method for earthquakes prediction provided by a global net of the en-detectors is currently under study.

Read this paper on arXiv…

Y. Stenkin, V. Alekseenko, Z. Cai, et. al.
Thu, 19 May 16

Comments: 16 pages, 7 figures

Decay of isotropic flow and anisotropic flow with rotation or magnetic field or both in a weakly nonlinear regime [CL]

We investigate numerically the decay of isotropic, rotating, magnetohydrodynamic (MHD), and rotating MHD flows in a periodic box. The Reynolds number $Re$ defined with the box size and the initial velocity is $100$ at which the flows are in a weakly nonlinear regime, i.e. not laminar but far away from the fully turbulent state. The decay of isotropic flow has two stages, the first stage for the development of small scales and the second stage for the viscous dissipation. In the rapidly rotating flow, fast rotation induces the inertial wave and causes the large-scale structure to inhibit the development of the first stage and retard the flow decay. In the MHD flow, the imposed field also causes the large-scale structure but facilitates the flow decay in the first stage because of the energy conversion from flow to magnetic field. Magnetic Reynolds number $Rm$ is important for the dynamics of the MHD flow, namely a high $Rm$ induces the Alfv\’en wave but a low $Rm$ cannot. In the rotating MHD flow, slower rotation tends to convert more kinetic energy to magnetic energy. The orientation between the rotational and magnetic axes is important for the dynamics of the rotating MHD flow, namely the energy conversion is more efficient and the stronger wave is induced when the two axes are not parallel than when they are parallel.

Read this paper on arXiv…

X. Wei
Tue, 10 May 16

Comments: 11 figures, 1 table, Acta Mechanica, 2016

Linear and nonlinear responses to harmonic force in rotating flow [SSA]

For understanding the dissipation in a rotating flow when resonance occurs, we study the rotating flow driven by the harmonic force in a periodic box. Both the linear and nonlinear regimes are studied. The various parameters such as the force amplitude $a$, the force frequency $\omega$, the force wavenumber $k$, and the Ekman number $E$ are investigated. In the linear regime, the dissipation at the resonant frequency scales as $E^{-1}k^{-2}$, and it is much stronger than the dissipation at the non-resonant frequencies on the large scales and at the low Ekman numbers. In the nonlinear regime, at the resonant frequency the effective dissipation (dissipation normalised with the square of force amplitude) is lower than in the linear regime and it decreases with the increasing force amplitude. This nonlinear suppression effect is significant near the resonant frequency but negligible far away from the resonant frequency. Opposite to the linear regime, in the nonlinear regime at the resonant frequency the lower Ekman number leads to the lower dissipation because of the stronger nonlinear effect. This work implies that the previous linear calculations overestimated the tidal dissipation, which is important for understanding the tides in stars and giant planets.

Read this paper on arXiv…

X. Wei
Fri, 6 May 16

Comments: 11 pages, 7 figures

Decaying shock studies of phase transitions in MgOSiO2 systems: implications for the Super-Earths interiors [CL]

We report an experimental study of the phase diagrams of periclase (MgO), enstatite (MgSiO3) and forsterite (Mg2SiO4) at high pressures. We investigated with laser driven decaying shocks the pressure/temperature curves of MgO, MgSiO3 and Mg2SiO4 between 0.2-1.2 TPa, 0.12-0.5 TPa and 0.2-0.85 TPa respectively. A melting signature has been observed in MgO at 0.47 TPa and 9860 K, while no phase changes were observed neither in MgSiO3 nor in Mg2SiO4. An increasing of reflectivity of MgO, MgSiO3 and Mg2SiO4 liquids have been detected at 0.55 TPa -12 760 K, 0.15 TPa – 7540 K, 0.2 TPa – 5800 K, respectively. In contrast to SiO2, melting and metallization of these compounds do not coincide implying the presence of poor electrically conducting liquids close to the melting lines. This has important implications for the generation of dynamos in Super-earths mantles.

Read this paper on arXiv…

R. Bolis, G. Morard, T. Vinci, et. al.
Thu, 7 Apr 16

Comments: N/A

The effects of short-lived radionuclides and porosity on the early thermo-mechanical evolution of planetesimals [EPA]

The thermal history and internal structure of chondritic planetesimals, assembled before the giant impact phase of chaotic growth, potentially yield important implications for the final composition and evolution of terrestrial planets. These parameters critically depend on the internal balance of heating versus cooling, which is mostly determined by the presence of short-lived radionuclides (SLRs), such as aluminum-26 and iron-60, as well as the heat conductivity of the material. The heating by SLRs depends on their initial abundances, the formation time of the planetesimal and its size. It has been argued that the cooling history is determined by the porosity of the granular material, which undergoes dramatic changes via compaction processes and tends to decrease with time. In this study we assess the influence of these parameters on the thermo-mechanical evolution of young planetesimals with both 2D and 3D simulations. Using the code family I2ELVIS/I3ELVIS we have run numerous 2D and 3D numerical finite-difference fluid dynamic models with varying planetesimal radius, formation time and initial porosity. Our results indicate that powdery materials lowered the threshold for melting and convection in planetesimals, depending on the amount of SLRs present. A subset of planetesimals retained a powdery surface layer which lowered the thermal conductivity and hindered cooling. The effect of initial porosity was small, however, compared to those of planetesimal size and formation time, which dominated the thermo-mechanical evolution and were the primary factors for the onset of melting and differentiation. We comment on the implications of this work concerning the structure and evolution of these planetesimals, as well as their behavior as possible building blocks of terrestrial planets.

Read this paper on arXiv…

T. Lichtenberg, G. Golabek, T. Gerya, et. al.
Tue, 22 Mar 16

Comments: 19 pages, 11 figures, 5 tables; accepted for publication in Icarus; for associated video files, see this http URL or this http URL

Atmospheric ionization by high-fluence, hard spectrum solar proton events and their probable appearance in the ice core archive [CL]

Solar energetic particles ionize the atmosphere, leading to production of nitrogen oxides. It has been suggested that some such events are visible as layers of nitrate in ice cores, yielding archives of energetic, high fluence solar proton events (SPEs). There has been controversy, due to slowness of transport for these species down from the upper stratosphere; past numerical simulations based on an analytic calculation have shown very little ionization below the mid stratosphere. These simulations suffer from deficiencies: they consider only soft SPEs and narrow energy ranges; spectral fits are poorly chosen; with few exceptions secondary particles in air showers are ignored. Using improved simulations that follow development of the proton-induced air shower, we find consistency with recent experiments showing substantial excess ionization down to 5 km. We compute nitrate available from the 23 February 1956 SPE, which had a high fluence, hard spectrum, and well-resolved associated nitrate peak in a Greenland ice core. For the first time, we find this event can account for ice core data with timely (~ 2 months) transport downward between 46 km and the surface, thus indicating an archive of high fluence, hard spectrum SPE covering the last several millennia. We discuss interpretations of this result, as well as the lack of a clearly-defined nitrate spike associated with the soft-spectrum 3-4 August 1972 SPE. We suggest that hard-spectrum SPEs, especially in the 6 months of polar winter, are detectable in ice cores, and that more work needs to be done to investigate this.

Read this paper on arXiv…

A. Melott, B. Thomas, C. Laird, et. al.
Mon, 29 Feb 16

Comments: JGR Atmospheres, in press

Thermal properties of Rhea's Poles: Evidence for a Meter-Deep Unconsolidated Subsurface Layer [EPA]

Cassini’s Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS) observed both of Rhea’s polar regions during two flybys on 2013/03/09 and 2015/02/10. The results show Rhea’s southern winter pole is one of the coldest places directly observed in our solar system: temperatures of 25.4+/-7.4 K and 24.7+/-6.8 K are inferred. The surface temperature of the northern summer pole is warmer: 66.6+/-0.6 K. Assuming the surface thermophysical properties of both polar regions are comparable then these temperatures can be considered a summer and winter seasonal temperature constraint for the polar region. These observations provide solar longitude coverage at 133 deg and 313 deg for the summer and winter poles respectively, with additional winter temperature constraint at 337 deg. Seasonal models with bolometric albedos of 0.70-0.74 and thermal inertias of 1-46 MKS can provide adequate fits to these temperature constraints. Both these albedo and thermal inertia values agree (within error) with those previously observed on both Rhea’s leading and trailing hemispheres. Investigating the seasonal temperature change of Rhea’s surface is particularly important, as the seasonal wave is sensitive to deeper surface temperatures (~10cm to m) than the more commonly reported diurnal wave (<1cm). The low thermal inertia derived here implies that Rhea’s polar surfaces are highly porous even at great depths. Analysis of a CIRS 10 to 600 cm-1 stare observation, taken between 16:22:33 and 16:23:26 UT on 2013/03/09 centered on 71.7 W, 58.7 S provides the first analysis of a thermal emissivity spectrum on Rhea. The results show a flat emissivity spectrum with negligible emissivity features. A few possible explanations exist for this flat emissivity spectrum, but the most likely for Rhea is that the surface is both highly porous and composed of small particles (less than approximately 50 um).

Read this paper on arXiv…

C. Howett, J. Spencer, T. Hurford, et. al.
Thu, 25 Feb 16

Comments: N/A

Solar activity during the Holocene: the Hallstatt cycle and its consequence for grand minima and maxim [SSA]

Cosmogenic isotopes provide the only quantitative proxy for analyzing the long-term solar variability over a centennial timescale. While essential progress has been achieved in both measurements and modeling of the cosmogenic proxy, uncertainties still remain in the determination of the geomagnetic dipole moment evolution. Here we improve the reconstruction of solar activity over the past nine millennia using a multi-proxy approach. We used records of the 14C and 10Be cosmogenic isotopes, current numerical models of the isotope production and transport in Earth’s atmosphere, and available geomagnetic field reconstructions, including a new reconstruction relying on an updated archeo-/paleointensity database. The obtained series were analyzed using the singular spectrum analysis (SSA) method to study the millennial-scale trends. A new reconstruction of the geomagnetic dipole field moment, GMAG.9k, is built for the last nine millennia. New reconstructions of solar activity covering the last nine millennia, quantified in sunspot numbers, are presented and analyzed. A conservative list of grand minima and maxima is provided. The primary components of the reconstructed solar activity, as determined using the SSA method, are different for the series based on 14C and 10Be. These primary components can only be ascribed to long-term changes in the terrestrial system and not to the Sun. They have been removed from the reconstructed series. In contrast, the secondary SSA components of the reconstructed solar activity are found to be dominated by a common ~2400-yr quasi-periodicity, the so-called Hallstatt cycle, in both the 14C and 10Be based series. This Hallstatt cycle thus appears to be related to solar activity. Finally, we show that the grand minima and maxima occurred intermittently over the studied period, with clustering near highs and lows of the Hallstatt cycle, respectively.

Read this paper on arXiv…

I. Usoskin, Y. Gallet, F. Lopes, et. al.
Tue, 9 Feb 16

Comments: In press in Astronomy & Astrophysics, doi: 10.1051/0004-6361/201527295

Interception efficiency of CVM-based lightning protection systems for buildings and the fractional Poisson model [CL]

The purpose of this paper is to resolve a question regarding efficiency of a lightning protection system (LPS) for buildings based on the collection volume method (CVM) . The paper has two components. The first, following suggestions of other authors [Abidin and Ibrahim 2004], takes advantage of count data from installed devices, and independent installation-site inspections to develop our statistical analysis. The second component investigates the validity of the underlying theory by introducing a novel methodology of fractional Poisson processes, which are able to reproduce the burstiness of lightning strikes, an essential feature of stochastic time dependence of incidence of lightning strikes. The standard Poisson processes used in the past efforts in this area cannot do that.

Read this paper on arXiv…

H. Haller and W. Woyczynski
Thu, 4 Feb 16

Comments: 22 pages, 3 figures