Product of Canada

Weekly column from Ken Tapping

Space weather, climate change and disruption of our technology are among the major concerns facing us today. We know the Sun drives these things, but we need to better understand how.  Issues like these are too big for any single country to address. They require many different types of observations, some made in space and others made on the ground. Moreover the solutions will involve all of us. That is why we collaborate internationally, sharing our ideas and information. We make our contributions and have access to the whole pool of data, collected by everyone.

Even in these days of video conferencing and easy communications, face-to-face meetings at conferences and workshops are critically important. In addition, there is no substitute for casual (and not so casual) discussions outside the meeting rooms and over meals. It is there that some of the best ideas and initiatives are born

I have just returned from two fascinating and thought-provoking workshops. Issues we discussed at the first meeting included the role of the Sun in climate change and unusual weather, including how it might trigger El Nino and La Nina events, which can cause dramatic and sometimes disastrous changes in weather patterns. Then there are the solar-induced changes in the ionosphere and upper atmosphere, disrupting communications and threatening space missions. Next, but by no means last, there are sun-caused magnetic storms, which produce power outages, further communications disruptions and accelerated corrosion of pipelines.

When we try to relate events on the Sun with possible consequences on Earth, we need to describe the Sun’s behaviour in a simple way, preferably as a simple ìindex of activityî that can be used by researchers, industries and government agencies. This is not an easy thing to do because the Sun is not simple. This was the subject of the second workshop.

What is arguably the best single measure of solar activity is a product of Canada.  Ever since 1947 the National Research Council has used two specialized radio telescopes for monitoring solar activity, distributing to a worldwide community of users  a quantity known internationally as the 10.7cm solar radio flux, or more concisely, F10.7. In recent years this programme has become increasingly relevant to Canadian interests in geophysics, space research and the exploration of space, which led to it becoming a collaborative project between the National Research Council, Natural Resources Canada and the Canadian Space Agency. F10.7 is measured here at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory, south of Penticton, British Columbia.

The importance of our F10.7 data was very apparent at the two meetings. At the first, 70 per cent of the presentations, given by scientists from all over the world, depended upon it. Then, to cap it all, the meeting ended with a unanimous vote of appreciation for our F10.7 data. In the second meeting, F10.7 cropped up in almost every other sentence. The F10.7 values have been flowing out to the world every day for more than 60 years, and continue to be valuable. We have every reason to be proud of this unique “Product of Canada”.

Jupiter rises around 8 p.m.; Mars comes up around 2 a.m. The Moon will be full on the 11th.

Ken Tapping is an astronomer with the National Research Council’s Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics, and is based at the DRAO,  Penticton.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Crystal Johns used her lunch break to film her audition video for the Vancouver Canucks.
VIDEO: Former Vees anthem singer wants to bring her voice to the Canucks

Crystal Johns made her audition tape during a lunch break

Flooding has become a reality for many communities in the Okanagan Valley as the region faces more extreme weather storms, blamed on the impact of climate change. (File photo)
Okanagan high target for spring flooding

Higher snowpack and mild winter precipitation levels raise concerns for Canada’s insurance industry

The Village of Keremeos is preparing to open up the village to in-province travellers as the province enters Phase 3 of its reopening plan. (Brennan Phillips - Keremeos Review)
Electric vehicle use continues to rise in Keremeos

August saw 147 vehicles for the peak of the year

The Okanagan Regional Library is holding a pair of online contests for its young readers. (File photo)
Okanagan Regional Library challenges young readers

Pair of contests online aimed at kids aged up to 18

Penticton Real Canadian Superstore
New COVID case at Penticton Superstore

The last day the employee worked was Jan. 21

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

Auldin Maxwell stacks the 693rd block on the top of record-breaking Jenga tower on Nov. 29. (Submitted)
Salmon Arm boy rests world-record attempt on single Jenga brick

Auldin Maxwell, 12, is now officially a Guinness world record holder.

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply

A Dodge Ram pickup similar to this one was involved in a hit-and-run in Lake Country on Saturday, Jan. 16. (Crime Stoppers photo)
Stolen truck involved in Okanagan hit-and-run

Incident happened on Highway 97 in Lake Country just before 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 16

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

Kelowna Fire Department. (FILE)
Early morning downtown Kelowna dumpster fire deemed suspicious

RCMP and the Kelowna Fire Department will conduct investigations into the cause of the blaze

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

From the left: Midway RCMP Csts. Jonathan Stermscheg and Chris Hansen, Public Servant Leanne Mclaren and Cpl. Phil Peters. Pictured in the front are Mclaren’s dog, Lincoln and Peters’ dog, Angel. Photo courtesy of BC RCMP
B.C. Mounties commended for bringing firewood to elderly woman

Cpl. Phil Peters said he and detachment members acted after the woman’s husband went to hospital

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

Most Read