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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just Posted

New way to connect with South Okanagan-Similkameen family physicians

Patients who do not currently have a primary care provider can add their name to a centralized list

Biggest First Nations cultural event in the South Okanagan returns

Third annual pow wow at the Penticton Indian Band is this weekend

Cross Canada horseback riding sisters trek through Cawston

Sister duo is raising money and awareness about the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides

South Okanagan Eagle Bluff wildfire classified as held

BC Wildfire crews will still work on Eagle Bluff blaze for some time

RDOS considers agreement with region in southern France

Benefits could include student exchanges, winemaker exchanges and marketing opportunities

Osoyoos woman who threatened mom and baby with butcher knife sentenced

Sharon Constance Forner pleaded guilty to one criminal charge and was sentenced

Cross-country Jeep tour to drive home donations for food bank

The Jeep Okanagan club will also raise donations at its Rally Through the Valley event in September

Concerns raised about crossing in Okanagan Falls

RDOS director says safety issues have been raised

Injured hiker rescued in Peachland

The woman fell while hiking Pincushion Mountain on Friday

‘Easy Rider’ star Peter Fonda dies at 79

Actor and writer was nominated for an Oscar for co-writing the 1969 psychedelic road trip movie

Car of missing Victoria pair found in Vernon

RCMP encourage people to call with information, not just post on social media

Families receive support from ‘Living Flag’ fundraisers

A young man and a boy who both live with limited mobility were supported by the Canada Day events

Haida artist to perform at George Ryga Festival in Summerland

Interweavings features music from Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson and Bill Henderson

Most Read