July 30, 2017

US Bombers Fly in S. Korea After North's 2nd Long-range Missile Test

North Korea's test Friday of a Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile was its second of the long-range weapon in a month. The first on July 4 showed the missile had the range to reach Alaska. Friday's test was designed to show the Hwasong-14's maximum range with a "large-sized heavy nuclear warhead," a statement from Pyongyang's Korean Central News Agency said. It said Washington should regard the launch as a "grave warning." KCNA quoted Kim as saying, "The whole US mainland" is now within North Korea's reach. The North Korean leader called Pyongyang's weapons program "a precious asset" that cannot be reversed or replaced.

July 30, 2017

(AP) — The United States flew two supersonic bombers over the Korean Peninsula on Sunday in a show of force against North Korea following the country's latest intercontinental ballistic missile test.

The B-1 bombers were escorted by South Korean fighter jets as they performed a low-pass over an air base near the South Korean capital of Seoul before returning to the Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, the U.S. Pacific Air Forces said in a statement.

It said the mission was a response to consecutive ICBM tests by North Korea this month. Analysts say flight data from North Korea's second ICBM test conducted Friday night showed that a broader part of the mainland United States, including Los Angeles and Chicago, is now in range of Pyongyang's weapons.

"North Korea remains the most urgent threat to regional stability," Gen. Terrence J. O'Shaughnessy, Pacific Air Forces commander, said. "Diplomacy remains the lead. However, we have a responsibility to our allies and our nation to showcase our unwavering commitment while planning for the worst-case scenario."

He added: " If called upon, we are ready to respond with rapid, lethal, and overwhelming force at a time and place of our choosing."

The United States often sends powerful warplanes in times of heightened animosities with North Korea. B-1 bombers have been sent to South Korea for flyovers several times this year in response to North Korea's banned missile tests, and also following the death of a U.S. college student last month after he was released by North Korean in a coma.

The Hwasong-14 ICBM, which the North first tested on July 4, is the highlight of several new weapons systems Pyongyang launched this year. They include an intermediate range missile the North says is capable of hitting Alaska and Hawaii and a solid-fuel midrange missile, which analysts say can be fired faster and more secretly than liquid-fuel missiles.

US Slams North Korea Missile Test as Kim Claims 'Whole US Mainland' in Reach

"Our foolish past leaders have allowed them (China) to make hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade" while allowing North Korea's missile program to become a direct threat to the US mainland, Trump wrote. China earlier this year proposed that North Korea freeze its nuclear weapons and missile programs in exchange for the United States and South Korea ending a string of military exercises that North Korea considers a threat to its security.

July 30, 2017

(CNN) - North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile Friday that appears to have the range to hit major US cities, experts say, and prompted a fresh round of condemnation from the United States, China, Japan and South Korea.

A combination of US, South Korean and Japanese analyses of the launch from Mupyong-ni, near North Korea's border with China, shows the missile flew about 45 minutes, going 3,700 kilometers (2,300 miles) high and for a distance of 1,000 kilometers (621 miles).

If the missile were fired on a flatter, standard trajectory, it would have major US cities such as Los Angeles, Denver and Chicago well within its range, with the possible ability to reach as far as New York and Boston, according to David Wright, a missile expert at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

However, early analysis of Friday's test cannot determine how heavy a payload the missile was carrying in its warhead, Wright said. The heavier the payload, the shorter the range.

South Korea's joint chiefs of staff said they estimate the missile tested Friday is more advanced than one launched earlier this month based on the range it traveled. Experts had said that test showed Pyongyang had the ability to hit Alaska.

July 9, 2017

G20 Summit Ends with Opt-outs for Trump on Climate, Trade

July 9, 2017

(AFP) - World leaders made concessions on trade and climate language to Donald Trump Saturday at the end of the most fractious and riot-hit G20 summit ever, in exchange for preserving a fragile unity of the club of major industrialised and emerging economies.

But the gesture opened the door for others, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warning that Ankara was now leaning towards not ratifying the landmark Paris climate accord.

Erdogan's threat brought further disarray to a summit that was marred by bilateral quarrels and strife over climate protection and trade.

And in one of the weekend's more bizarre scenes, Trump raised eyebrows by leaving a discussion and letting his daughter Ivanka take his place.

In a departure from final summit declarations that tend to outline consensus on issues that range from fighting terrorism to financial governance, the extraordinary conclusion this year spelt out differences on core issues.

It acknowledged Trump's decision to take the United States out of the 2015 Paris deal and clearly stated Washington's wish to continue using and selling fossil fuels that are a main driver of global warming.

The declaration also stated for the first time the right of countries to protect their markets with "legitimate trade defence instruments" -- wording that essentially gives Trump wiggle room to push on with his "America First" policy.

The nationalistic stance has set him on collision course with many of America's allies, who warned Trump against an isolationist path and starting a trade war.

"Where there is no consensus, the communique spelt out the discord," said host Chancellor Angela Merkel.

- 'Problem' with Paris deal -

But with Trump determinedly leading the US out of the climate accord ratified by 153 countries, Erdogan said he was leaning towards not completing the ratification process.

"After that step taken by America, the position that we adopt is in the direction of not passing it in parliament," Erdogan said.

He also suggested some other, unidentified G20 countries had a "problem" with the agreement.

Thomas Bernes from the think-tank Centre for International Governance Innovation described the final declaration as a "masquerade".

"When compared to the G20 dynamic since the London summit in 2009, it's a step back: a clear signal against protectionism to fight the financial crisis becomes a mixed signal."

- Trail of destruction -

If the meetings within the tightly secured venue were anything but harmonious, outside chaos and violence gripped Germany's second city.

Ten minutes' walk from the summit, charred road barricades, trashed shops, debris and shattered glass bore testimony to an anarchic Friday night of street clashes between protesters and police, when commandos chased militants who hurled rocks from rooftops.

The clashes blocked US First Lady Melania Trump at her residence on Friday, forcing G20 organisers to completely alter a programme for spouses of visiting leaders.

On Saturday, thousands of anti-riot cops were again on guard, as helicopters hovered overhead, with tens of thousands of demonstrators on the march.

Fresh clashes erupted early Sunday in the streets of Hamburg following the end of the G20 summit, with protesters setting fire to a number of vehicles and police reporting more officers injured and more arrests.

- Trump vs. Putin -

Within the summit walls, world leaders were dancing a delicate diplomatic waltz, with discord not only dogging the main G20 conferences, but also adding tension to bilateral asides.

Host Merkel herself admitted that "deep differences" remain with Erdogan after they met on the sidelines of the summit.

But it was Trump's first head-to-head with Russia's leader President Vladimir Putin that stole the show.

A day after Trump slammed Moscow's actions in Ukraine and Syria, the two men had a "robust and lengthy exchange" about allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 US election, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said.

But Tillerson, who was present at the meeting that ran for two hours and 15 minutes, also said the two alpha-male leaders "connected very quickly" with "very clear positive chemistry".

Trump said Saturday that the tete-a-tete was "tremendous" while Putin gave an upbeat assessment of what it meant for future ties.

"There is every reason to believe that we will be able to at least partially re-establish the level of cooperation that we need," Putin said.

After scoring at his Russian encounter, Trump turned to another thorny meeting, this time with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

North Korea's first intercontinental ballistic missile test announced this week was the key issue, with Trump warning Thursday that Pyongyang's military sabre-rattling would bear "consequences".

Entering into talks, Trump told his Chinese counterpart that "something has to be done" on North Korea.

In a summit with its fair share of odd and awkward moments, it was Ivanka's appearance at one discussion alongside Xi, Merkel and Erdogan that caused the biggest stir.

Historian Anne Applebaum took to Twitter to denounce what she described "an unelected, unqualified, unprepared New York socialite" being seen as "the best person to represent American national interests."

Merkel though sought to play down the case, saying that it is "in line with what other delegations do".

Solar Cycles and Global Temperatures

The solar cycle or solar magnetic activity cycle is the nearly periodic 11-year change in the Sun's activity (including changes in the levels of solar radiation and ejection of solar material) and appearance (changes in the number and size of sunspots, flares, and other manifestations).

They have been observed (by changes in the sun's appearance and by changes seen on Earth, such as auroras) for centuries.

The changes on the sun cause effects in space, in the atmosphere, and on Earth's surface. While it is the dominant variable in solar activity, aperiodic fluctuations also occur.

Solar cycles have an average duration of about 11 years. Solar maximum and solar minimum refer respectively to periods of maximum and minimum sunspot counts. Cycles span from one minimum to the next.


Solar Cycle 23

Solar cycle 23 was the 23rd solar cycle since 1755, when extensive recording of solar sunspot activity began.[1][2] The solar cycle lasted 12.3 years, beginning in August 1996 and ending in December 2008. The maximum smoothed sunspot number (SIDC formula) observed during the solar cycle was 180.3 (November 2001), and the starting minimum was 11.2.[3] During the minimum transit from solar cycle 23 to 24, there were a total of 817 days with no sunspots.

This cycle lasted 11.6 years, beginning in May 1996 and ending in January 2008. The maximum smoothed sunspot number (monthly number of sunspots averaged over a twelve-month period) observed during the solar cycle was 120.8 (March 2000), and the minimum was 1.7.[17] A total of 805 days had no sunspots during this cycle.[18][19][20]

Solar Cycle 24

On January 4, 2008, a reversed-polarity sunspot appeared, heralding the arrival of Solar Cycle 24.

Solar Cycle 24 - should end in late 2018 or early 2019 (11 years, unless it is a longer than usual cycle, as was cycle 23, 12.3 years)

The current solar cycle began on January 4, 2008,[13] with minimal activity until early 2010.[14][15] It is on track to have the lowest recorded sunspot activity since accurate records began in 1750. 

The cycle featured a "double-peaked" solar maximum. The first peak reached 99 in 2011 and the second in early 2014 at 101.[16]

Solar Cycle 24 is the 24th solar cycle since 1755, when extensive recording of solar sunspot activity began. It is the current solar cycle, and began in December 2008 with a smoothed minimum of 2.2 (SIDC formula). There was only minimal activity until early 2010. It reached its maximum in April 2014 with smoothed sunspot number only 116.4, the lowest in over a century.

The current solar cycle is currently the subject of research, as it is not generating sunspots in the manner which would be expected. Sunspots did not begin to appear immediately after the last minimum (in 2008) and although they started to reappear in late 2009, they were at significantly lower rates than anticipated.

Prior to the minimum between the end of Solar Cycle 23 and the beginning of Solar Cycle 24, there were essentially two competing theories about how strong Solar Cycle 24 would be. 

In early 2013, after several months of calm, it was obvious that the active 2011 was not a prelude to a widely predicted late 2012-early 2013 peak in solar flares, sunspots and other activity. This unexpected stage prompted some scientists to propose a "double-peaked" solar maximum, which then occurred. The first peak reached 99 in 2011 and the second peak came in early 2014 at 101.


The level of understanding of solar impacts on weather is low.

We are in a declining phase of solar cycle 24.

This latest "Solar Sunday" video was created on 21st May 2017. The video looks at the current situation with regards to the current solar cycle, Solar Cycle 24.

Solar activity is currently at very low levels with just a small number of sunspots. The GWV solar tracker show that sunspot and solar flux are declining compared to where they was when we began the solar tracker last Autumn.

This decline in solar activity is to be expected because we are moving inexorably down into solar minimum (expected around 2018-2019); however, this ins't a linear process so we do some "spikes" in sunspot numbers while the overall trend in both sunspot numbers and solar flux is downwards.

In terms of SC24 sunspot numbers are now at a similar level to where they were in 2010. The big difference between now and 2010 is that 2010 was moving out of solar minimum while the 2017 is moving from solar maximum into solar minimum.

Comparing the current situation in terms of solar activity with the last time was in a "declining" phase of a solar cycle - The last solar cycle SC23 - we can see that solar activity now is at similar levels to where it was around 2005 and 2006.

We should be in true solar minimum for SC24 within the next 12-18 months, so before much longer we'll have a "crash" in sunspot numbers, sustained over several weeks or even months.

Looking further back through the solar cycles we can see that SC24 continues to run closely to SC12 (1877-1890), and SC24 is confirmed as being one of the weakest solar cycles recorded, although not as weak as the Dalton Minimum cycles number 5 and 6.

We continue to wait for official guidance and forecasts for the next solar cycle 2C25 but using the mean monthly smoothed sunspot numbers chart we can see that when we have such dramatic falls in sunspot activity such as we've seen during SC24 is often followed by a solar cycle as weaker or occasionally even weaker than the previous solar cycle.


The Dalton Minimum was a period of low solar activity, named after the English meteorologist John Dalton, lasting from about 1790 to 1830. Like the Maunder Minimum and Spörer Minimum, the Dalton Minimum coincided with a period of lower-than-average global temperatures. The Oberlach Station in Germany, for example, experienced a 2.0°C decline over 20 years. The Year Without a Summer, in 1816, also occurred during the Dalton Minimum. Solar cycles 5 and 6, as shown below, were greatly reduced in amplitude. [Source]

Solar Update June 2017–the sun is slumping and headed even lower
Guest essay by David Archibald at Watts Up With That
June 7, 2017
Solar cycle 24 has seen very low solar activity thus far, likely the lowest in 100 years.
Figure 1: F10.7 Flux 2014 – 2017
The F10.7 flux shows that over the last three and a half years the Sun has gone from solar maximum through a bounded decline to the current stage of the trail to the minimum. Solar minimum is likely to be still three years away.
The Full Post is HERE.  Stay tuned.  It was a record snow year in California and cosmic ray counts continue to increase. It is going to be an interesting climate year.

July 6, 2017

Russia is Expanding Its Military, But NATO Isn’t Sure Why

 July 5, 2017

(Newsweek) - Russia’s military capabilities are expanding across Europe, but the top military chief of Western defense pact NATO has said Moscow’s plans remain ambiguous amid a heavily politicized atmosphere between the two leading forces.

Trump Pledges to Act on North Korean Threat

July 6, 2017

(Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump vowed on Thursday to confront North Korea "very strongly" following its latest missile test and urged nations to show Pyongyang that there would be consequences for its weapons program.

North Korea on Tuesday test-launched an intercontinental ballistic missile that some experts believe has the range to reach the U.S. states of Alaska and Hawaii and perhaps the U.S. Pacific Northwest. North Korea said it could carry a large nuclear warhead.

Speaking at a news conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda, Trump said Korea was "a threat, and we will confront it very strongly".

He said the United States was considering "severe things" for North Korea, but that he would not draw a "red line" of the kind that his Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, had drawn but not enforced on the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

Trump added: "... they are behaving in a very, very dangerous manner and something will have to be done."

The issue presents Trump, who took office in January, with perhaps his biggest foreign policy challenge. It has put pressure on his relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping, whom Trump had pressed without success to rein in Pyongyang.

The United States said on Wednesday that it was ready to use force if necessary to stop North Korea's nuclear missile program. But China on Thursday called for restraint and made clear it did not want to be targeted by U.S. sanctions.