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This Week in History
August 28 - September 3, 2016

"Earthlings" introduced to the Galaxy as Hurricane Katrina was strengthened by solar-galactic activity (2005)

By Ben Deniston and Rick Sanders

ELAT Stations & Precipitation in Durango, Mexico
Chart (top) comparing the actual rainfall (blue) to the predicted amount without ELAT (ELectrification of the ATmosphere) stations (red circles), in the state of Durango, Mexico (shaded gray) [2] [3] [4]

August 27, 2016 --- Most weathermen and climatologists happily ignore the role of the galaxy in our weather and climate. But ignorance is hardly ever bliss, as Jonah found out when he woke up in the whale's stomach.

Admittedly, there were more down-to-earth factors involved in the tragedy of Katrina, than the solar-galactic activity starting on August 22, 2005: we had an intellectually challenged President at the helm, and our infrastructure was in woeful state of disrepair (if for example, the technology developed by the Dutch in the Scheldt estuary had been applied in the New Orleans area, there would have been fewer or no lives lost and less material damage); the infrastructure developed under the Roosevelt administrations was stretched far beyond its lifecycle.

But our problem is deeper. We mostly think of ourselves as living on an isolated planet floating around in space. The slightly more sentient among us, realize that things happening on Earth are somehow related to the Sun, but the Galaxy is still viewed as some distant, passive thing which has no bearing on our day-to-day lives. The way we act, shows that we really believe that "there's nothing new under the sun."

On August 22, 2005, America found out that you ignore the Galaxy at your own peril. As demonstrated in a paper written a few years later,[1] Russian Scientist S.A. Pulinets and colleagues showed that solar-driven modulations in the effect of our Galaxy on Earth strengthened the infamous hurricane Katrina during the days before it devastated New Orleans in 2005. When the storm was out over the Atlantic Ocean heading towards the Gulf of Mexico, a solar outburst caused the Earth’s magnetic field to enter a period of intense fluctuation (known as a “geomagnetic storm”). The intensity of the galactic cosmic radiation reaching the Earth was significantly reduced– in effect, the Earth was temporarily shielded from our galactic climate.

Pamphlet published in September, 2005. In the picture on the cover: Stranded residents in Jefferson Parish, New Orleans, are brought to an elevated bridge area by boat to await transportation by truck to staging area. Photo Credit: Win Henderson/FEMA
  Read the pamphlet

This unleashed a critical sequence of events. Under normal conditions, the constant inflow of galactic cosmic rays ionizes the Earth’s atmosphere, driving cloud formation and inducing condensation of water vapor, which warms the atmosphere by releasing large amounts of latent heat. With this process reduced for the days following the solar outburst and geomagnetic storm, there was less warming of the upper atmosphere, and this cooling of the upper atmosphere made for a greater temperature gradient between the relatively warm ocean and the relatively cold upper atmosphere. A greater temperature gradient causes cyclones, like Katrina, to intensify.

That is how Katrina, after having been downgraded to a tropical storm, was cranked back up by this solar-galactic interaction. This was a horrible disaster, but, if we can learn to tune this ionization process (which is currently being studied to increase rainfall in desert areas), we might some day be able to take a hurricane down a peg or two.


[1] V.G. Bondur, S.A. Pulinets, and G.A. Kim, “The Role of Galactic Cosmic Rays in Tropical Cyclogenesis: Evidence of Hurricane Katrina,” Doklady Earth Sciences, 2008, Vol. 422, No. 2, pp. 244-249.

[2] “Russian Scientist—Mexico’s New Rain God?” Reuters, June 24, 1996.

[3] Jay Rizoli, “Looking for a Change in the Weather?” Mass High Tech: The Journal of New England Technology, March 10, 2003.

[4] “Electric Rainmaking Technology Gets Mexico’s Blessing, But for now, doubters prevail north of the border,” by Samuel K Moore, IEEE Spectrum, April 1, 2004. electric-rainmaking-technology-gets-mexicos-blessing