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Thursday, June 09, 2011

Closing a comm center could be a tragedy in waiting

Good morning to everyone.

I know this one is not my "forte" as such, but I wanted to send my thoughts on the closure of the Coast Guard's marine communications center here in St. John's as a result of federal government cuts to the budget.

This is a short note on why the center should remain open, not that a lot of you haven't got notes on that already, but I think this one might be of importance too
Here's my thoughts

We are entering a period of what is called the "solar maximum". During a solar maximum the sun is subject to all sorts of funny things like an increase in "sun spots" that causes a higher level of radiation in earth's atmosphere as well as the increased risk of solar flaring.

Here's a major one from just the other day:

Solar flaring can mean big trouble to anything that uses electricity or is subject to the use of atmospherics, like satellites, and of course we all know about the big power outages on the eastern seaboard, and in Quebec, that was caused by a massive solar flare in 1986. Or, at least, i think it was in that year.


1) Radio signals have a tendency to get degraded during solar flare activity.
If a radio signal becomes degraded, it does not get out to those who need to hear it. Range of a signal is shortened at a time when it may very well need to be heard the most. I've been playing with everything from CB radios to shortwave listening over the past 30 years, and I've experienced degradation of radio signals enough to have my own degraded that I've lost the signal from stations before.

A radio that is having trouble with degradation because of solar flaring activity also has to contend with another problem
2) There is proof already that solar flaring also disrupts GPS equipment.Several NOTAM's and notices about the degradation of GPS signals are already out there in the radio world the last few months. If a GPS is off because the satellite system is knocked out by solar flaring, accidents can happen and that also can happen for any airline that uses GPS or a fly by wire flight system.
That means trouble, or the greater potential for trouble
If signals are degraded, right off the bat, we have a signal that needs to be heard by someone another 1500 miles from where a person or persons may be in need of help. How does one hear the call if it does happen? It should be a worry and a concern as the Federal government gets stupid in the closure of this important radio center.

Don't let them get away with it!

Just thought I'd spill my two cents worth.


George Murphy

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