Solar forcing of drought frequency in the Maya lowlands.
We analyzed lake-sediment cores from the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, to reconstruct the climate history of the region over the past 2600 years. Time series analysis of sediment proxies, which are sensitive to the changing ratio of evaporation to precipitation (oxygen isotopes and gypsum precipitation), reveal a recurrent pattern of drought with a dominant periodicity of 208 years. This cycle is similar to the documented 206-year period in records of cosmogenic nuclide production (carbon-14 and beryllium-10) that is thought to reflect variations in solar activity. We conclude that a significant component of century-scale variability in Yucatan droughts is explained by solar forcing. Furthermore, some of the maxima in the 208-year drought cycle correspond with discontinuities in Maya cultural evolution, suggesting that the Maya were affected by these bicentennial oscillations in precipitation. (+info)
Measurements of LET distribution and dose equivalent onboard the Space Shuttle IML-2 (STS-65) and S/MM#4 (STS-79).
Space radiation dosimetry measurements have been made onboard the Space Shuttle STS-65 in the Second International Microgravity Laboratory (IML-2: 28.5 degrees x 300 km: 14.68 days) and the STS-79 in the 4th Shuttle MIR mission (S/MM#4: 51.6 degrees x 300-400km: 10.2 days). In these measurements, three kinds of detectors were used; one is a newly developed active detector telescope called "Real-time Radiation Monitoring Device (RRMD-I for IML-2 and RRMD-II with improved triggering system for S/MM#4)" utilizing silicon semi-conductor detectors and the other detectors are conventional passive detectors of thermoluminescence dosimeters (TLDs) and CR-39 plastic track detectors. The main contribution to dose equivalent for particles with LET > 5.0 keV/micrometer (IML-2) and LET > 3.5 keV/micrometer (S/MM#4) is seen to be due to galactic cosmic rays (GCRs) and the contribution of the South Atlantic Anomaly (SAA) is less than 5% (IML-2: 28.5 degrees x 300 km) and 15% (S/MM#4: 51.6 degrees x 400 km) in the above RRMD LET detection conditions. For the whole LET range (> 0.2 kev/micrometer) obtained by TLDs and CR-39 in these two typical orbits (a small inclination x low altitude and a large inclination x high altitude), absorbed dose rates range from 94 to 114 microGy/day, dose equivalent rates from 186 to 207 microSv/day and average quality factors from 1.82 to 2.00 depending on the locations and directions of detectors inside the Spacelab at the highly protected IML-2 orbit (28.5 degrees x 300 km), and also, absorbed dose rates range from 290 to 367 microGy/day, dose equivalent rates from 582 to 651 microSv/day and average quality factors from 1.78 to 2.01 depending on the dosimeter packages around the RRMD-II "Detector Unit" at the S/MM#4 orbit (5l.6 degrees x 400km). In general, it is seen that absorbed doses depend on the orbit altitude (SAA trapped particles contribution dominant) and dose equivalents on the orbit inclination (GCR contribution dominant). The LET distributions obtained by two different types of active and passive detectors, RRMDs and CR-39, are in good agreement for LET of 15 - 200 kev/micrometer and difference of these distributions in the regions of LET < 15 kev/micrometer and LET > 200 kev/micrometer can be explained by considering characteristics of CR-39 etched track formation especially for the low LET tracks and chemical etching conditions. (+info)
Space radiation enhancement linked to geomagnetic disturbances.
Space radiation dosimetry measurements have been made on board the Space Shuttle. A newly developed active detector called "Real-time Radiation Monitoring Device (RRMD)" was used (Doke et al., 1995; Hayashi et al., 1995). The RRMD results indicate that low Linear Energy Transfer (LET) particles steadily penetrate around the South Atlantic Anomaly (SAA) without clear enhancement of dose equivalent and some daily periodic enhancements of dose equivalent due to high LET particles are seen at the lower geomagnetic cutoff regions (Doke et al., 1996). We also have been analyzing the space weather during the experiment, and found that the anomalous high-energy particle enhancement was linked to geomagnetic disturbance due to the high speed solar wind from a coronal hole. Additional analysis and other experiments are necessary for clarification of these phenomena. If a penetration of high-energy particles into the low altitude occurs by common geomagnetic disturbances, the prediction of geomagnetic activity becomes more important in the next Space Station's era. (+info)
Lunar lava tube radiation safety analysis.
For many years it has been suggested that lava tubes on the Moon could provide an ideal location for a manned lunar base, by providing shelter from various natural hazards, such as cosmic radiation, meteorites, micrometeoroids, and impact crater ejecta, and also providing a natural environmental control, with a nearly constant temperature, unlike that of the lunar surface showing extreme variation in its diurnal cycle. An analysis of radiation safety issues on lunar lava tubes has been performed by considering radiation from galactic cosmic rays (GCR) and Solar Particle Events (SPE) interacting with the lunar surface, modeled as a regolith layer and rock. The chemical composition has been chosen as typical of the lunar regions where the largest number of lava tube candidates are found. Particles have been transported all through the regolith and the rock, and received particles flux and doses have been calculated. The radiation safety of lunar lava tubes environments has been demonstrated. (+info)
Activities of the Japanese space weather forecast center at Communications Research Laboratory.
The International Space Environment Service (ISES) is an international organization for space weather forecasts and belongs to the International Union of Radio Science (URSI). There are eleven ISES forecast centers in the world, and Communications Research Laboratory (CRL) runs the Japanese one. We make forecasts on the space environment and deliver them over the phones and through the Internet. Our forecasts could be useful for human activities in space. Currently solar activity is near maximum phase of the solar cycle 23. We report the several large disturbances of space environment occurred in 2001, during which low-latitude auroras were observed several times in Japan. (+info)
Visualization of particle flux in the human body on the surface of Mars.
For a given galactic cosmic ray (GCR) environment, information on the particle flux of protons, alpha particles, and heavy ions, that varies with respect to the topographical altitude on the Martian surface, are needed for planning exploration missions to Mars. The Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) mission with its Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA) instrument has been providing precise topographical surface map of the Mars. With this topographical data, the particle flux at the Martian surface level through the CO2 atmospheric shielding for solar minimum and solar maximum conditions are calculated. These particle flux calculations are then transported first through an anticipated shielding of a conceptual shelter with several water equivalent shield values (up to 50 g/cm2 of water in steps of 5 g/cm2) considered to represent a surface habitat, and then into the human body. Model calculations are accomplished utilizing the HZETRN, QMSFRG, and SUM-MARS codes. Particle flux calculations for 12 different locations in the human body were considered from skin depth to the internal organs including the blood-forming organs (BFO). Visualization of particle flux in the human body at different altitudes on the Martian surface behind a known shielding is anticipated to provide guidance for assessing radiation environment risk on the Martian surface for future human missions. (+info)
Space radiation protection: comparison of effective dose to bone marrow dose equivalent.
In many instances, bone marrow dose equivalents averaged over the entire body have been used as a surrogate for whole-body dose equivalents in space radiation protection studies. However, career radiation limits for space missions are expressed as effective doses. This study compares calculations of effective doses to average bone marrow dose equivalents for several large solar particle events (SPEs) and annual galactic cosmic ray (GCR) spectra, in order to examine the suitability of substituting bone marrow dose equivalents for effective doses. Organ dose equivalents are computed for all radiosensitive organs listed in NCRP Report 116 using the BRYNTRN and HZETRN space radiation transport codes and the Computerized Anatomical Man (CAM) model. These organ dose equivalents are then weighted with the appropriate tissue weighting factors to obtain effective doses. Various thicknesses of aluminum shielding, which are representative of nominal spacecraft and SPE storm shelter configurations, are used in the analyses. For all SPE configurations, the average bone marrow dose equivalent is considerably less than the calculated effective dose. For comparisons of the GCR, there is less than a ten percent difference between the two methods. In all cases, the gonads made up the largest percentage of the effective dose. (+info)
Global warming: the balance of evidence and its policy implications. A review of the current state-of-the-controversy.
Global warming and attendant climate change have been controversial for at least a decade. This is largely because of its societal implications. With the recent publication of the Third Assessment Report of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change there has been renewed interest and controversy about how certain the scientific community is of its conclusions: that humans are influencing the climate and that global temperatures will continue to rise rapidly in this century. This review attempts to update what is known and in particular what advances have been made in the past 5 years or so. It does not attempt to be comprehensive. Rather it focuses on the most controversial issues, which are actually few in number. They are: Is the surface temperature record accurate or is it biased by heat from cities, etc.?, Is that record significantly different from past warmings such as the Medieval Warming Period?, Is not the sun's increasing activity the cause of most of the warming?, Can we model climate and predict its future, or is it just too complex and chaotic?, Are there any other changes in climate other than warming, and can they be attributed to the warming? Despite continued uncertainties, the review finds affirmative answers to these questions. Of particular interest are advances that seem to explain why satellites do not see as much warming as surface instruments, how we are getting a good idea of recent paleoclimates, and why the 20th century temperature record was so complex. It makes the point that in each area new information could come to light that would change our thinking on the quantitative magnitude and timing of anthropogenic warming, but it is unlikely to alter the basic conclusions. Finally, there is a very brief discussion of the societal policy response to the scientific message, and the author comments on his 2-year email discussions with many of the world's most outspoken critics of the anthropogenic warming hypothesis. (+info)