CCNet 107/2000 - 20 October 2000

Please note that I will be in Germany for most of next week and therefore
unable to post any CCNet issues. BJP

"Pluto Express -- unlike most space science missions -- will suffer
an actual and serious scientific data loss if its arrival at Pluto is
significantly delayed, since Pluto is currently moving away from the Sun
on its elliptical orbit and its thin atmosphere (one of the main
subjects of the mission) will soon begin freezing out onto its surface."
       -- SpaceDaily, 19 October 2000

"Right now, everyone in the natural gas industry is crossing their
fingers, hoping that global warming works and we have a warm winter,"
Gathercole quipped. "If we have a cold winter, the prices are really going
to go through the roof."
   --Vancouver Sun, 19 October 2000

(1) LEONIDS 2000
    Rob McNaught <>






    Anatta <anatta@UCAR.EDU>

    National Post, 19 October 2000

    SpaceDaily, 19 October 2000

     Duncan Steel <>

(1) LEONIDS 2000

From Rob McNaught <>

Dear all,

David Asher and I have written a piece for the next issue of WGN that
summarizes our expectations for 2000. We have discussed/critiqued some
other approaches to ZHR predictions and made clear the limitations of
our method. This note is being sent now to meteorobs for two reasons.
Firstly Sky and Telescope 2000 Nov., p 111 makes two statements about
our work that are erroneous, and I want to correct these before anyone
gives up on the 2000 Leonids. The second is that there are two
wonderful coincidences in this year's Leonids that will allow the
derivation of valuable data about dust trail structure from visual
observations. WE NEED YOUR OBSERVATIONS!  (well, via the IMO!)

"... David Asher and Robert McNaught, foresee just a 'normal' display of
up to 100 meteors per hour ..." S&T 2000 Nov. p 111
Whilst our nominal predictions is of ~100, we do not discount, and never
have discounted, the possibility of storm activity.  Our analysis relies
heavily on historical ZHR measures *for dust trail encounters*, and none
exist for the geometry being encountered in 2000 November (4 and 8-rev
trails).  We suspect activity will be "low", but could still be the best
meteor shower many observers will have seen.

"This year will truly put the Asher-McNaught meteor-trail theory to the
test ..." S&T 2000 Nov. p 111
From the comments above, it is clear that we make no strong prediction
so unless substantial activity occurs well away from a dust trail
encounter, there will be no test of our theory this year.  Only Ferrin,
amongst those who have made predictions, has done so without consideration
of the existence of dust trails.

I've seen various values for our ZHR predictions floating about.  Our
latest predictions are those that appeared in Sky and Telescope 2000 June,
p 32.  The "?" appearing after the predicted ZHRs of 100 for this year are
there for a very good reason, as stated above.  Hopefully we'll have another
look at representing the lower activity extremes of dust trails in the next
couple of weeks, but with such limited data available for dust trail
encounters, such extrapolations will always be unreliable.  However,
this year will provide much needed data in this regard, so even if
predictions are questionable, the observed ZHRs from dust trail
encounters this year *will be extremely valuable*.

The following dust trail encounters are within 0.0050 AU of the Earth

                              distance     ZHR
2000 Nov. 17 07:53 UT  2-rev  -0.0012 AU     ?
             08:22     1-rev  +0.0031        0
          18 03:44     8-rev  +0.0008      100?
             05:51     6-rev  +0.0030        0
             06:44     5-rev  +0.0028        0
             07:51     4-rev  +0.0008      100?

For miss distances of between 0.0000 AU to -0.0007 AU, the time of
prediction appears to be accurate to around 5 minutes.  This indicates that
the dust trails are basically flat sheets, and this is in fact the first
observational evidence to that effect (see R.H. McNaught, D.J. Asher,
Meteorit. Planet. Sci. 34, 1999, pp. 975-978).  The timing for more distant
trails may be less precise, but as we argued in the above paper, there is
no observational evidence for distant dust trail signatures in the 1965 or
1998 observations (nor does the IMO analysis indicate this for 1999).
We do not expect any young dust trail encounters to give a broad maximum
(FWHM >~1 hour), but this year will be a good opportunity to gather
suitable data.

In the above table, only the miss distances are given for several dust
trail encounters.  Other relevant parameters are the minimum ejection
velocities (represented by da0 in our original paper) and the dilution
of the trail density with age (fM in our original paper).  We feel confident
that the 1, 5 and 6-rev trails will produce activity lower than the
likely background activity, but 3 trails are worthy of special effort.

Several authors have previously published predictions of detectable
activity from the 2-rev trail in 2000.  We certainly consider this as a
possibility, although believe such activity will be much lower than the
4 and 8-rev trails.  If the 2-rev trail has significant activity in
relation to these other two trails, this will indicate a substantial
asymmetry in the dust trail profile in the sunward/anti-sunward direction
and/or a notable aging effect additional to trail stretching (the only
aging factor we believe is important).  [In the upcoming note in WGN, David
and I comment on four errors in the analysis of Jenniskens et al from the
April-June 2000 WGN, as mentioned in the June 2000 S&T p. 32, which had
suggested there was an error in our assumed position for the core of the
dust trails.]

The two coincidences in this year's trail encounters are

1) the 4-rev and 8-rev trails are encountered at the same geometry of
+0.0008 AU.  This would mean that differences in the observed ZHR are
caused by aging factors alone.  Or at least they will be if the disruption
of the 8-rev trail due to perturbations is not major!  [Magnitude index
is included in our predictions in a roundabout way.]  Analysis of this
may be difficult, but the European longitude observations of the 8-rev
trail and the 4-rev from the Americas four hours later will prove

2) the 2-rev trail and the 4-rev trail encounters occur exactly 1 day
apart (well, within 2 minutes sidereal time!).  This means that observers
using the same location, observing in the same direction and, hopefully,
in the same conditions (Moon will make a minor difference) will get
directly comparable data on these two trails.  Both the relative intensity
and the magnitude index will be important results.

So my advice is to get out and observe, not that readers of meteorobs need
any such encouragement! Also, if you are not at European or American
longitudes your observations are just as valuable. Any outburst must be
related to the background activity and who knows, something unusual
might happen. Don't forget the occasional Leonid (or Taurid!) fireball
and those wonderful long duration trains.  Perhaps 2000 won't amount to
much, but if such is the case, you should feel well satisfied that your
observations will go towards refining the various theories of the
structure of the Leonids.

Good luck!

Cheers, Rob

Robert H. McNaught



The Effect on the Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt of a Large Distant Tenth Planet
S. Collander-Brown1, M. Maran2, and I.P. Williams2

1 Department of Pure and Applied Physics, Queen's University, Belfast BT7
2 Astronomy Unit, Queen Mary and Westfield College, Mile End Road, London E1

We investigate the orbital evolution of both real and hypothetical
Edgeworth-Kuiper Objects in order to determine whether any conclusions can
be drawn regarding the existence, or otherwise, of the tenth planet
postulated by Murray (1999). We find no qualitative difference in the
orbital evolution, and so conclude that the hypothetical planet has been
placed on an orbit at such a large heliocentric distance that no evidence
for the existence, or non-existence, can be found from a study of the known
Edgeworth-Kuiper Objects.

Published in: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 318, 101
For preprints, contact
or on the web at



Sweeping Secular Resonances in the Kuiper Belt Caused by Depletion of the
Solar Nebula
Makiko Nagasawa1 and Shigeru Ida1

1Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Tokyo Institute of Technology,
Meguro-ku Tokyo 152-8551, Japan

We have investigated excitations of orbital eccentricities and inclinations
of Kuiper Belt objects (KBOs) caused by the sweeping secular resonances
during the primitive solar nebula depletion. Since nebula gravitational
potential rotates the longitudes of perihelia and the ascending node, the
nebula depletion leads to migration of secular resonances. In the outer
(classical) Kuiper belt (the region beyond 42 AU), inclinations and
eccentricities are respectively distributed up to 0.6 (radian) and 0.2, and
their root mean squares are about 0.2 (radian) and 0.1. These large values
are not explained by present planetary perturbations alone. We have
investigated the sweeping secular resonances in the Kuiper belt with both
direct orbital integration and analytical method and found that the sweeping
secular resonances can account for the eccentricity and inclination in the
outer belt. Inclinations of objects in the outer belt are excited to the
observational level if the residual nebula with about 0.1% of the density in
the minimum mass nebula model is depleted in a timescale of 107-108 years.
For inclination excitation, Jovian perturbations and nebula potential is the
most important and Neptunian perturbations do not play an important role
during the residual nebula depletion, although Neptune with more than 1/5 of
present mass is needed for enough eccentricity excitation. If further
observation of the KBOs at semimajor axis 50AU confirms our model, it would
give important clues about Neptune formation and the depletion of solar

To appear in: The Astronomical Journal
For preprints, contact
or on the web at



A Detection Method for Small Kuiper Belt Objects:
The Search for Stellar Occultations
F. Roques1 and M. Moncuquet1

1 Département de recherche spatiale (DESPA), Observatoire de Paris, 92195
Meudon, France

We explore the possibility of detecting small Kuiper Belt Objects (KBO) by
serendipitous observation of stellar occultations: We show that such
unpredictable occultations may allow us to detect a population of very small
objects (typically of 100 m radius at 40 AU), invisible by any other
observational method, as long as (i) the assumed population fills up a
sufficient area on the sky plane, (ii) the instrumental sensitivity and
acquisition frequency are high enough and (iii) the observed star has a
small angular radius. This result is basically due to the diffractive
broadening of the geometric shadow of small (assumed numerous) occulting
objects. This diffractive broadening is more pronounced for smaller stellar
disks and better photometric precision. Assuming there exist about 1011
objects of radius  km, located between 30 and 50 AU near the Ecliptic, and
that the differential size distribution varies as  with the index q =
4extending down to decameter-sized objects, we expect a number of valid
occultations (i.e., a  event) between a few to several tens per night, if we
may obtain an r.m.s. signal fluctuation  and observe a star in the ecliptic
with an angular radius  0.01 mas. Since this occultation rate is very
sensitive to the index slope q and plummets when , a KBO occultation
observation campaign could provide a decisive constraint on the actual slope
of the KBO size distribution for sub-kilometer-sized objects. Blue O class
stars are the best candidates for detecting KBOs since they have the
smallest angular radius for a given visual magnitude. The occultation events
are typically very brief (  1 s) and they are shorter but more numerous when
observed in the antisolar direction, so rapid photometry(>1 Hz) is required
and high speed photometry(  Hz) is preferred. The French space mission Corot
will provide an excellent opportunity to observe occultations by KBOs using
high precision photometry.

Published in: Icarus, 147, 530 (2000 October)
For preprints, contact
or on the web at



The Spacewatch Wide Area Survey for Bright Centaurs and Transneptunian
Jeffrey A. Larsen1, Arianna E. Gleason1, Nichole M. Danzl1,
Anne S. Descour1 , Robert S. McMillan1, Tom Gehrels1,
Robert Jedicke1, Joseph L. Montani1, and James V. Scotti1

1 Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85712,

We have conducted a large-area search for the brightest members of the
Transneptunian and Centaur/Scattered-Disk asteroid populations by
reprocessing archival scans from the Spacewatch 0.9 meter telescope at Kitt
Peak. Our survey encompasses 331 scans taken from September of 1995 to
September of 1999 and has a raw sky coverage of 1483.8 square degrees. We
discovered five Transneptunians and five Centaur/Scattered Disk objects
using an automated motion detection code. In addition, we serendipitously
found four Transneptunians and two Centaur/Scattered-Disk objects that had
been previously discovered. This survey is unique in that it involves a
method which has a reasonable chance to re-acquire its lost objects.

In this paper we develop techniques to aid our understanding of our software
efficiency and survey procedures. We use this understanding to ``convolve"
our raw sky coverage with our measured detection efficiency and a model of
our scan coverage to estimate what fraction of survey areas can be
considered ``new". Our large sky coverage extends the cumulative luminosity
function of the Transneptunians into a region previously constrained only by
upper limits and allows a power law fit to be attempted to the Centaur
cumulative luminosity function. In objects per square degree brighter than
R=21.5, we find cumulative surface densities of Centaurs to be , of
Transneptunians to be  and Scattered Disk Objects to be . We extrapolate
these values to estimate the number of each class in the Ecliptic brighter
than R=21.5: 100 Centaurs, 400 Transneptunians, and 70 Scattered Disk

Orbit analysis by the Minor Planet Center suggests that three of our five
Transneptunians are resonators: 1998 VG44 is in the 3:2, 1995 SM55appears to
be in the 5:3, and 1998 SN165 appears to be in the 7:5 resonance.

To appear in: The Astronomical Journal
For preprints, contact



Thermal Evolution of the Centaur Object 5145 Pholus
M.C. De Sanctis1, M.T. Capria1, A. Coradini1, and R. Orosei1

1 Istituto di Astrofisica Spaziale CNR, Area di Ricerca di Roma Tor Vergata,
via del Fosso del Cavaliere, 100, 00133 Roma, Italia

We present the results obtained by the simulations of different thermal
models of 5145 Pholus, one of the known Centaurs. Pholus orbit is highly
eccentric, similar to that of comets but its dimension is more similar to
larger asteroids. Pholus cannot be clearly numbered into either class. The
most likely source of Centaurs is the Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt: dynamical
studies and physical properties suggest that Pholus recently entered in the
planetary zone. Here we assume that the nature of Pholus is that of a
cometary body made by different ices and dust. We have computed the thermal
evolution of this object under different conditions: as a ``new'' object,
namely an undifferentiated body, and an ``old'' one, differentiated and aged
in the Kuiper Belt. We have tried to see also the effects induced by the
presence of an organic dust on the overall evolution. Both the ``new'' and
the ``old'' object show low, but different, levels of gas activity.

Published in: Astronomical Journal, 120, 1571 (2000 September)
For preprints, contact M.C. De Sanctis at
or on the web at


From Anatta <anatta@UCAR.EDU>


Population and Wealth, More than Climate, Drive Soaring Costs of U.S. Flood

Telephone: 303-497-8604
Fax: 303-497-8610

BOULDER-Societal changes, much more than increased precipitation,
spurred a steep rise in flood-damage costs in the United States over
much of the past century, according to a new study published October
15 in the Journal of Climate. U.S. annual flood losses, adjusted for
inflation, rose from $1 billion in the 1940s to $5 billion in the

"Climate plays an important but by no means determining role in the
growth of damaging floods in the United States in recent decades,"
write the authors, Roger Pielke Jr. and Mary Downton, both of the
National Center for Atmospheric Research. NCAR's primary sponsor is
the National Science Foundation.

Pielke and Downton examined ten different measures of precipitation.
They found a strong relationship between flood damage and the number
of two-day heavy rainfall events and wet days. They also found a
somewhat weaker relationship between flood damage and two-inch
rainfall events in most regions. However, these relationships could
not explain the dramatic growth in flood losses, according to the

In a series of recent articles, including this one in the Journal of
Climate, Pielke, Downton, and colleagues looked at the role of
increasing precipitation, population, and national wealth. They found
that population growth alone accounts for 43% of the rise in flood
damages from 1932 to 1997, with a much smaller effect from increased
precipitation. "Most of the other 57% increase is due to burgeoning
national wealth," says Pielke. Downton's work suggests that more
detailed disaster reporting also contributes to the trend.

Climate scientists have observed a rise in precipitation in some
areas of the United States and elsewhere over the past century. The
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has written that a
warmer climate could lead to more heavy-rain events. The Pielke-
Downton paper found that flooding increases with precipitation,
depending greatly on the time and location of the rain or snowfall.
However, "even without an increase in precipitation," they write,
"total flood damage will continue to rise with the nation's growing
population and wealth unless actions are taken to reduce

Pielke, a political scientist, has often stated that his work "is
consistent with the conclusions of the IPCC," whose consensus view is
that the earth's climate is changing at least partly because of human
activity. "But," he argues, "debate over the science of global
warming need not stand in the way of effective actions to better
address climate impacts."

"We know enough to act now," said Pielke in a recent presentation at
NCAR. "We can manage spiraling flood costs without waiting for
precise answers from climate change research. In this sense the
debate over global warming misses the mark." Disaster mitigation
policies regarding floodplain management are already available and
can curtail the rising costs, he said.

Globally, between 1970 and 1995 floods killed more than 318,000
people and left more than 81 million homeless. During 1991-95 flood
related damage totaled more than $200 billion worldwide, representing
close to 40% of all economic damage attributed to natural disasters
in that period.

NCAR is managed by the University Corporation for Atmospheric
Research, a consortium of more than 60 universities offering Ph.D.s
in atmospheric and related sciences.

-The End-

Visuals: Images are available at
Filename(s): flood1.tif, flood2.tif, flood3.tif

Caption: Severe, widespread flooding in the Midwest during the summer of
1993 resulted in $21 billion in damages.  (Photo courtesy of the
National Center for Atmospheric Research/UCAR/NSF.)

UCAR and NCAR news:


From National Post, 19 October 2000

Foggy logic threatens Hansen's Kyoto alternative

David E. Wojick
National Post
Climate change guru Jim Hansen's recently announced plan of action -- an
alternative to the Kyoto Protocol -- took a major step forward this week
with the first meeting of climate researchers and U.S. government officials
to openly discuss Mr. Hansen's strategy. Held in Washington, D.C., at the
Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, the meeting included
a number of prominent planners from the U.S. Department of Energy and the
Environmental Protection Agency, as well as Mr. Hansen himself.

Mr. Hansen, one of the world's leading climate modellers, is widely regarded
as a founding father of the present-day climate concern. With his proposed
plan, he now offers what he modestly calls a "mid-course correction," based
on the theory that pollution may contribute almost as much to global warming
as does carbon dioxide.

With the Kyoto Protocol negotiations coming to something of a head next
month in The Hague, Mr. Hansen's alternative scenario proposal has been
contentious, to say the least. In fact, the environmental community has gone
ballistic over it. In his opening remarks, Mr. Hansen said he had been so
misquoted and maligned that he would soon publish an open letter to his many
critics, something a scientist does not often do.

However, analysts like myself who regard the Kyoto scheme as unworkable and
unwise, and who predict the Kyoto negotiations will bog down, have welcomed
the Hansen Climate Plan as the ultimate "no regrets" strategy. If you feel
you have to spend billions of dollars to save the planet (I don't), you
might as well clean up the filthy cities of the world in the process.

Basically, the Hansen Climate Plan is a 50-year program calling for three
things. First, shift the focus of climate control away from drastically
reducing carbon dioxide emissions in prosperous developed countries, such as
Canada and the United States -- which many regard as impossible -- to an
attack on global smog pollution, especially unburnt carbon from inefficient
combustion in developing countries. Second, restrain growth of carbon
dioxide emissions in developed countries to the extent possible through
energy-efficiency measures. Third, develop alternatives to fossil fuel
combustion, allowing carbon dioxide emissions to be phased out globally
beginning in 2050.

Assuming one wants to throw a lot of money at this issue, which the
governments of Canada and the United States seem determined to do, the
Hansen Plan makes good sense. Renewable energy experts say 40 years is a
reasonable time frame for actually making solar and wind power work cheaply,
and we might discover something else in the meantime. Of course, we've
already found the solution -- nuclear power -- but that's too dangerous to
be trusted to humans. Or is it? Prime Minister Jean Chrétien wants to
include building nukes in the Kyoto package; it fits the Hansen plan even

Plus, there's no question that the developing countries can use the money,
or that their cities are smoggy. Mind you, this should be new money, because
there is no point in cleaning up the cities if the residents starve in the

The most objectionable feature of the Hansen Plan, as far as hard-line
Greens are concerned, is that it may not require those wrenching lifestyle
changes they long for us to endure. Which is precisely what makes the plan

Monday's meeting consisted of two panels -- one of scientists to discuss the
soundness of Mr. Hansen's assumptions, and the other of U.S. government
policy experts who very tentatively addressed the implications of a revised
Hansen-like policy. Mr. Hansen was an active participant as well. Though all
had good credentials, the logic of it all sometimes seemed foggy.

Pollution, especially urban smog, is a major source of climate change, the
scientists generally agreed. In fact, said Peter Stone of the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, smog can change the climate in urban areas, where
most people live, even if it does not contribute to global change. Then
there's Tony Hansen -- he calls himself the "smog Hansen" as opposed to Jim
"climate change" Hansen -- who emphasized that domestic heating and cooking
in developing countries produces a tremendous amount of soot, which
circulates globally. Billions of the world's people still heat and cook with
raw coal, wood and dung. Efficient combustion, and central electric power
stations, would eliminate most of this soot, he said. As a matter of fact,
about one-third of the world's people do not have electricity, except maybe
the batteries in the town radio. The West spent untold billions on
uneconomic rural electrification programs; why shouldn't we provide the cash
needed to electrify the Third World as well?

To give them credit, all the scientists, including Mr. Hansen, stressed that
the sources, amounts and fate of unburnt carbon around the world are poorly
understood. They called on governments to take immediate action to begin
monitoring these emissions, and for much research to unravel their effects.
In fact, they generally concluded we do not understand the role of
atmospheric aerosols, even though they are as important as carbon dioxide.

It could be argued, of course, that we cannot base a climate control policy
on atmospheric processes we do not understand. But if that argument worked,
we would not have the Kyoto negotiations in the first place.

At the policy level, the U.S. officials were understandably cautious,
especially on the eve of national elections where environmental issues are
at the fore. The caution could come at a cost: namely, the promotion of
expensive government programs.

EPA's John Bachmann, Deputy Director of the office that sets national air
quality standards, noted his agency had already proposed tough new rules for
ozone and fine particulates, including unburnt carbon. But because elemental
carbon makes up only about 4% of the ambient concentration of fine particles
in the U.S., it is not regarded as a separate health hazard, as it may be in
developing countries. Mr. Bachmann did say the EPA was aggressively pursuing
international agreements on pollution control, such as the Long Range
Transport of Pollution treaty, and that Mr. Hansen's climate proposal would
certainly be added to that discussion. Marilyn Brown, Oak Ridge National
Laboratory's energy efficiency guru, reported that Mr. Hansen's proposal
would be incorporated into the U.S. Department of Energy's new plan --
Scenarios for a Clean Energy Future. This plan calls for a doubling of the
US$1-billion-per-year U.S. energy efficiency R&D budget.

In other words, the Hansen Plan may simply be added to the pot, engendering
more federal power and more government spending without being treated as the
policy alternative to Kyoto it truly is.

David E. Wojick is a journalist and policy analyst who resides in Virginia
and Ontario.


From SpaceDaily, 19 October 2000

Cameron Park - October 19, 2000

On Sept. 13, NASA space science chief Ed Weiler announced that the
long-awaited 2004 launch of the "Pluto-Kuiper Express" mission would be the
subject of a "stop work" order due to limited funds for space science, and
the impact PKE was having on the Europa Orbiter mission scheduled for launch
in 2006.

This was followed, on Sept. 29, by an announcement by Doug Stetson (manager
of JPL's Solar System Exploration Office) that the earliest that NASA might
now launch a Pluto mission would be "2009 or 2010". But as Jupiter would not
be available for a gravity-assist flyby to catapult the little probe out to
Pluto, an alternative means of propelling it rapidly into the outer Solar
System would have to be used - such as "solar-electric propulsion or solar
sails" - with a planned arrival at Pluto "no later than 2020".

However, the planetary science community was infuriated by the first
decision, and unmollified by the second. Pluto Express -- unlike most space
science missions -- will suffer an actual and serious scientific data loss
if its arrival at Pluto is significantly delayed, since Pluto is currently
moving away from the Sun on its elliptical orbit and its thin atmosphere
(one of the main subjects of the mission) will soon begin freezing out onto
its surface.



From Duncan Steel <>


From The New York Times, 19 October 2000
Climate Change Led to Mass Extinction 34 Million Years Ago

... No mention made of the coincidence in time between this
extinction (Late Eocene) and the impact that formed the Chesapeake
Bay crater (ca. 85 km across) and the associated strewn field
of tektites in the SE of the USA. See e.g. CCnet of 15 August,
8 September, 29 September.

Of course a 'cosmic winter' - as described in the article -
is precisely what one expects in the aftermath of a major impact.


MODERATOR'S NOTE: I fully agree, Duncan. Despite its name, however, a cosmic

winter doesn't mean that it's "only" colder during winters :-)

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