Libmonster ID: IN-503
Author(s) of the publication: Emma SOLOMATINA

Over 150 scientists from Russia and abroad attended the International Symposium "Aero- and Ocean Optics. Aerophysics", which was held in the summer of 2001 in Irkutsk. This Symposium was organized by the Institute of Solar Geophysics and the Institute of Aerooptics of the RAS Siberian Branch. What did impel scientists working in two different fields of knowledge to meet there in the Baikal land? Academician Gelly A. Zherebtsov and Dr. of Physics and Mathematics Gennady G. Matviyenko, directors of the two above-named research institutes, explain.

Essentially we have the same object of research: "solar physicists" deal with the upper atmosphere, the circumterrestrial space in fact, while "opticians" are concerned with the lower atmosphere. The symposium has shown there are such spheres of the earth-sun system as well as some processes that can be of interest to both our disciplines. "Solar physicists" know better the system as a whole; as for the "opticians", they have a deeper understanding of the atmospheric problems. That is why it was important to us to hear one another so as to outline ways of further cooperation and identify a comprehensive range of problems for research.

At their symposium the scientists learned much new about the sun's effect on life here on earth. Remarkable facts came to light in the course of studies of the effect of solar activity on Lake Baikal. In winter it freezes regardless of the temperature, high or low. On the minus side of the centigrade scale, of course. According to observations carried out over many years, the freezing of the lake is closely connected with the time of the solar cycle which can take 11, 10 and 9 years. The conclusion is amazing indeed: Baikal obeys solar activity laws rather than those of Mother Earth. Changes of atmospheric transparency are another remarkable phenomenon. We often hear about the "solar constant" so-called, but actually the quantity of direct radiation from the sky is found to have been decreasing year after year. Although not noticed by people, this phenomenon has a substantial effect on physical processes. Thus, some atmospheric layers are already short of solar radiation due apparently to their clogging up. Naturally all that can cause global deformations. For example, there are signs that a global warm spell is really setting in. Though another, local peculiarity is of interest here: generally, the temperature is rising (we speak about climate, not weather changes). However, if in the European part of our country the warming occurs due to an increase in summer temperatures, in Eastern Siberia it is the winter that becomes warmer. Why so? To learn that our two research institutes should pool efforts.

Today "solar geophysicists" can predict certain phenomena. The upper atmosphere is not considered something exotic any more; satellites of various designation, equipped with expensive and sophisticated hardware, are working there. It is important to anticipate every contingency like, say, static-charge accumulation of a spacecraft which puts it out of commission. It is impossible to take it from the orbit for repairs-as a result, big money is wasted. So to preclude suchlike situations, space scientists make cosmic weather forecasts. To do this they should know the energies of charged particles and of the

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electric field in outer space, its dynamic regime and many other things. And scientists do have such knowledge.

New data have been obtained on the sun's effect on the earth. Even in the neutral atmosphere this effect is found to be of electrical nature due to certain fluxes around our planet. Another significant factor: the thunderstorms which form closed circuits stabilizing the energy balance.

Participants in the symposium also discussed how circum terrestrial space as well as earth's crust and core are affected by the sun. One thing is obvious: our planet lives in the solar atmosphere and cannot but react to any changes happening in the atmosphere. However, the form in which such reactions occur is not quite clear yet. The transmission of solar energy to this or that area is not always direct. For instance, it is a known fact that solar and magnetospheric particles penetrate the atmosphere in the polar areas thus giving rise to the Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis. Besides, solar particles are also responsible for radio communication interferences and for changes in the dynamic mode of the neutral atmosphere; that is to say, we come to deal with complex electric, magnetic and chemical processes.

And now this is what Dr. Gennady Matviyenko, director of Institute of Aerooptics of RAS Siberian Branch, has said. A great number of research lines are cov-

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ered by optics with environmental monitoring being one of the most important areas. In recent years climate changes tendencies have become manifest in global warming. There is a special international protocol (Kyoto) restricting man's ecocidal activities. This entails grave financial consequences for all countries. Thus, the United States intends to walk out, since observance of the Kyoto protocol might injure the country's economy. But is it really so?

Optical studies allow to answer such questions and turn suppositions and hypotheses into hard knowledge. Thereby we can identify the causes of global climate changes - whether they are brought about by natural processes occurring in the earth atmosphere and in the solar system or by man's activity. The interests of both our institutes thus concur. "Solar physicists" have their own methods, observation stations, sun-monitoring facilities; as for us, we have a range of instruments, we have a knowledge of optical processes. We can get a full understanding of how the earth depends on the sun by joining our forces. So at our symposium we combined our efforts into a single monitoring system and broke ground for joint research programs.

Nauka v Sibiri (Science in Siberia), 2001


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