Written by David (mrloferlofer)
After the second day of tracking density spikes in the Solar Wind at just after 03:30 UTC, I noticed that this morning's spike in proton density correlates with the 10:45 PM CDT start of the fire on the Hercules 265 drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday night.
This article will explore the possible connection between fire on the Hercules 265 drilling rig and our weak solar wind, magnetic field due to low solar activity and a recent uptick in galactic cosmic ray activity.
Keep in mind that the location of this incident was in the CDT Time Zone which is -5 Hours UTC. So this 03:30 UTC spike in solar wind density occurred at 10:30 CDT near the Hercules 265 drilling rig. Here is a link to the iFrame (below), on Space Weather and the GMF in offshore drilling:
Images from Left to Right:
ACE Solar Wind shows the density (orange) spiking up to 40-50 protons/cm3 just after 3:30 UTC the morning of July 24th, 2013 which was 10:30 PM local time on Hercules 265.
Sonoma Gamma Ray Burst Monitor shows the most recent burst occurring at 08:19 UTC on July 22nd from the Constellation Ophiuchus.
ACE Solar Wind (again) shows the higher of the two density spikes at 03:30 UTC on the morning of July 23rd; this density spike was up over 100 protons/cm3 and occurred a day after the GRB.
The image on the right is the June-July 2013 Cosmic Ray Variation via the Moscow Neutron Station, as you can see it starts to spike heading into the 20's of July as the low solar activity led to a lack in Forbush Decreases which protect Earth from the more harmful effects of Space Weather, such as CRV.
In the Paper "Impact of Galactic Cosmic Rays on Earth's Atmosphere and Human Health" the authors add on to an accepted definition of space weather:
"'Recently, Lilensten and Belehaki (2009) have defined the term 'space weather' as 'the physical and phenomenological state of natural space environments. The associated discipline aims, through observation, monitoring, analysis and modelling, at understanding and predicting the state of the Sun, the interplanetary and planetary environments, and the solar and non-solar driven perturbations that affect them, and also forecasting and nowcasting the potential impacts on biological and technological systems.'
When we talk about space weather, we can often conjure images of large coronal mass ejections (CMEs) or dramatic solar flares that drive spectacular effects in the Earth’s near-space environment. Apart from it, high speed solar wind streams and Galactic Cosmic Rays are also very important as driving activity in the Earth’s magnetosphere and are responsible for geomagnetic activities."
Images via NASA on Earth's changing Magnetic Field:
"Earth's magnetic field is changing in other ways, too: Compass needles in Africa, for instance, are drifting about 1 degree per decade. And globally the magnetic field has weakened 10% since the 19th century."
S0 continues this discussion in Energy from Space 2.0:
(2:06) Globally our protective magnetic shield is 10% weaker than it was in the 19th Century and the World Center for Geomagnetism claims the weakening began in the 1600's.
(2:15) That's Earth's protective interface with 'Energy from Space,' 10% gone; 10% more energy coming in. Not just the extra Solar Energy they measure, but on all wavelengths and frequencies; not to mention the Cosmic Ray and Gamma Ray Bursts not coming from the Sun.
(4:37) Solar Wind is relatively quiet on both SOHO and here on ACE. Kp-Index shows we're all green.
(4:44) After yesterday's Sunspots slowdown the flares calmed down further as well. There are three active regions notable on the Earth-facing disk.
(5:05) Folks, all Earth's connectivity is still in that coronal hole..."You know what happens when magnetic fields of the Sun are absent: we get coronal holes, Alfvén waves and better energy transfer from the Sun to the planets; at least according to NASA."
"It should be noted that a decreased solar activity implies an increased intensity of galactic cosmic rays entering the Earth’s atmosphere. This is due to the more free propagation path of the rays in the less intense solar wind (Svensmark and Friis-Christensen, 1997)."
Looking back at two studies from 2000:
"High energy particles striking the atmosphere produce a secondary population (cosmic ray showers) and changed the ionization level of the atmosphere, thereby modify the electrical environment. The sources of ionization in the atmosphere are solar radiation (especially UV), cosmic ray fluxes, X-ray solar flare and radioactivity (effective at altitudes < 3 km). The main source of ionization up to the 60 km altitude in CRs and above to this altitude solar UV becomes important (Bazilevskaya, 2000)...
There are two ways that Galactic Cosmic Rays can affect space weather systems: (a) the high energy charged particles produce direct changes in materials/systems exposed to them both in space and above the surface of the Earth, (b) the anisotropic distribution of GCRs inci- dent on the Earth’s atmosphere affects atmospheric processes differently, which manifest themselves as latitudinal, longitudinal dependencies. Cosmic ray anisotropies may also be used as a tool for remote sensing of magnetic field changes in the heliosphere (Kudela et al., 2000)."
A Brief History of Induced Currents in Oil and Gas Pipeline from the "Solar Storm Threat Analysis" by James A. Marusek:
"Geomagnetic induced currents affect oil and gas pipelines. In pipelines, GIC and the associated pipe-to-soil voltages can increase the rate of corrosion in pipelines especially in high latitude regions. Damage resulting from corrosion is cumulative in nature and can eventually lead to pipeline integrity failures and major fuel leaks. As an example, GICs reaching 57 amps were measured in a Finnish natural gas pipeline in November 1998. Solar storms may have had a hand in the gas pipeline rupture and explosion on 4 June 1989 that demolished part of the Trans-Siberian Railway, engulfing two passenger trains in flames and killing 500 people, many of these were school children heading off on a vacation in the Urals."
It seems that the collapsing atmosphere and weakened state of the Earth's magnetic field and Sun's Heliosphere is allowing a greater impact from Galactic Cosmic Rays and according to ESA's "Space Weather Catalogue" the "Interaction between cosmic rays/solar energetic particles and the atmosphere creates a lot of secondaries, including pions, muons and neutrons. Some of these neutrons can escape the planet and decay in its vicinity, producing protons and electrons."
Just like the protons in the density spikes just after 03:30 UTC...curiouser and curiouser!