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

Penticton cyclist injured in hit-and-run in critical condition

Jesse Birkedal was injured in a hit-and-run while cycling on Eastside Road

Vehicle smashes sign and cars in Summerland school parking lot

Driver of a Ford Expedition lost control, crashing into two other vehicles

Dangerous driving in Keremeos and Vernon nets jail time

Gary Patrick Richard will serve 73 days in jail for dangerous driving and other offences

Top classic car show cruises back into Penticton

Peach City Beach Cruise runs June 21 to 23 in Penticton

Penticton pharmacy restricted from dispensing opioid treatment drugs

B.C. College of Pharmacists alleges Sunrise Pharmacy dispensed treatment drugs against rules

PHOTOS: Elusive ‘ghost whale’ surfaces near Campbell River

Ecotourism operator captures images of the rare white orca

Man arrested during Kelowna police stand off

Water is flooding Highway 33 in Kelowna Monday afternoon

Judas Priest rocks the Okanagan

Judas Priest is on a 32 date tour of North America

Victoria mom describes finding son ‘gone’ on first day of coroners inquest into overdose death

Resulting recommendations could change handling of youth records amidst the overdose crisis

Dash-cam video in trial of accused cop killer shows man with a gun

Footage is shown at trial of Oscar Arfmann, charged with killing Const. John Davidson of Abbotsford

Suicide confirmed in case of B.C. father who’d been missing for months

2018 disappearance sparked massive search for Ben Kilmer

Eight U.S. senators write to John Horgan over B.C. mining pollution

The dispute stems from Teck Resources’ coal mines in B.C.’s Elk Valley

Restrictive policies affecting labour mobility for care aides in B.C.

‘I had to take two competency exams and pay over $1,400,’ said an Okanagan care aide

Threats charge against Surrey’s Jaspal Atwal stayed

Atwal, 64, was at centre of controversy in 2018 over his attendance at prime minister’s reception in India

Most Read