Letter to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

To the Editor:

As of the end of October, the cumulative number days without sunspots in the transition into solar cycle 24 now stands at 745. So far the sun continues to be fairly quiet. This solar minimum acts like the Energizer bunny. It just keeps going, and going, and going.

The Average Magnetic Planetary Index (Ap index) has been referred to as the common yardstick for solar magnetic activity. An Ap index of "4" was the lowest recorded monthly value since measurements began in January 1932.

Back in January 2009, David Archibald predicted the Ap index would hit a low in October 2009 with a value of "3". Analysis from past solar cycles shows that the Ap index generally reaches its lowest value approximately a year after the solar sunspot minimum. So the question is how well did he do.

The Ap Index for last month, October, was "3". The Ap index had been hovering near rock bottom for 11 months now. Beginning in November 2008, there have been eight monthly readings of "4" along with three monthly readings of "5". But this month the value broke through the glass ceiling and spawned the lowest AP monthly index value in the past 77 years.

So what does this all mean? Well, the sun's interplanetary magnetic field has fallen to around 4 nT (nano Tesla) from a typical value of 6 to 8 nT. The solar winds pressure is down to 50 year lows. The heliospheric current sheet is flattening. These changes allow high-energy galactic cosmic rays (GCRs) to penetrate deeper into our solar system. In 2009, cosmic ray intensities have increased 19% beyond anything we've seen in the past 50 years, when satellite measurements began. Greater numbers of GCRs driving deep into our atmosphere cause greater cloud formation (through ionization) and decreasing surface temperature because low level clouds reflect sunlight back into space. This explains why Northern and Southern hemispheres have experienced unusually cold winters during the past couple years.

The sun exhibits great variability in the strength of each solar cycle. Are we headed towards another solar Grand Minima such as the Maunder Minimum (about 1645-1715 A.D.) and Spörer Minimum (about 1420-1570 A.D.)? Several solar scientist are worried that we might be headed in that direction. Recent Grand Minima events corresponded to Little Ice Ages. "Grand Minima" events produce GCR fluxes around 300% higher than anything measured to date.

James A. Marusek


To the Editor:

Bloomfield School District would like to thank the staff of the Greene County Health Department and volunteers who assisted at the H1N1 Vaccination Clinic at Bloomfield School District on Friday, Nov. 6.

The following people volunteered or represented the Greene County Health Department during the clinic. Andrea Alltop, Jennifer Brinnegar, Marilyn Crays, Miranda Helms, Crystal Johnson, Sue McIntosh, Debbie Rusher, Sheree Spinks, and Sara Spainhoward.

Due to the assistance of the volunteers and Greene County Health Department workers the Bloomfield School District H1N1 vaccination clinic was a huge success. Approximately, 508 students and staff workers received vaccinations during the clinic.

Additionally, the administration and staff of Bloomfield Elementary and Bloomfield Jr./Sr. High School are to be commended for their assistance and patience during the clinic. The clinic was well organized by Mrs. Mary Jane Vandeventer and Mrs. Stormie Robinette. Thank you to Bloomfield State Bank, Farmer's and Mechanics Bank, and Mainsource Bank for providing suckers or candy for students receiving a vaccination.

Daniel A. Sichting