28 − ASIAN SEED tural productivity in some areas has been increasingly vulnerable to freak deluges and storminess (blue pin- points); while a scarcity of rain has adversely impacted productivity in many other areas (yellow markers). By monitoring these events closely, we may be able to identify seasonal devi- ations specific to certain geographical areas, which will enable us to devise effective cropping strate- gies. At the same time, we must be diligent to discern between long-term trends and short-term anomalies, which can also be attribut- able to atmospheric chem- istry related to the human factor (geo-engineering and anthropogenic pollution). MAGMA & MINIMA Increased volcanic activity – largely overlooked in the climate change dialogue – should not be overlooked. Numerous studies link volcanism with solar minima and climate change. In Volcanic Eruptions and Solar Activity, a 1989 study by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, strong correlation was not- ed between sun cycles and major volcanic eruptions. Data spanning five centu- ries (1500–1980) reinforced the hypothesis that, when the sun is less active (solar minima), frequency of large- scale volcanic eruptions increases. The reason? Solar flares (to which our atmosphere is more vulnerable during solar minima) “cause changes in atmospheric circulation patterns that abruptly alter the earth’s spin,” precipitating erup- tions. [Stothers, 1989]. Research by the European Space Agency corroborated that study’s solar-volcanic link. A 2003 report entitled Possible correlation be- tween solar and volcanic activity in a long-term scale, confirmed that “pro- longed maxima of surface air temperature correspond to prolonged maxima of solar activity and minima of volcanic activity. This agrees with the explanation that volcanic dust and gases cause a decrease of the observed surface air tem- perature.” The report postulates that: “Because increase of volcanic activity is expect- ed in the next decades, a small decrease in the air temperature should follow.” [Střeštík, 2003]. Reason thus suggests that the sun influences climate systems directly (through geo-magnetism and cosmic ray-induced cloud nucle- ation) and indirectly (by triggering earthquakes and volcanic eruptions). As Asia’s Ring of Fire com- prises most of the world’s active volcanoes, this topic commands interest – espe- cially in Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines. In a 2011 report, Explosive volcanic eruptions trig- gered by cosmic rays: Vol- cano as a bubble cham- ber, Japanese researchers examined 11 major volcanic eruptions in Japan over the previous three centuries, and found a statistical- ly significant correlation between violent eruptions and increase in galactic cosmic rays during solar minima, when a majority of the eruptions occurred. They postulated that the increase in GCRs triggered the eruptions. [Ebisuzaki T et al, 2011] FIRE TO ICE Volcanoes are fiery while erupting but have a cool- ing effect on weather. For example, the Philippines’ Mount Pinatubo, in June 1991, released an estimat- ed 20 megatons of sulphur dioxide into the atmos- phere, causing global mean surface temperatures to cool 0.5 degrees Celsius the following year. Resulting climate effects were ob- served over the next three years. [Robock, 2002] Likewise, it is believed eruption of Indonesia’s Mount Tambora in 1815 (during the Dalton Solar Minimum) precipitated the infamous “year without a summer” documented across the globe in 1816. [USGS, 2016]. In addition to medium-term impact on weather and climate, increased volcanism immediately threatens agri- culture. Particularly vulnerable are open fields in the vicinity of volcanoes – as many Jap- anese farmers learned this past February when Mount Shinomoedake in Japan’s Kagoshima Prefecture erupt- ed. Its thick layer of ash-fall devastated exposed shitake mushrooms, white leeks, white cabbage, broccoli, white onions, rice and wheat. Though fertile in controlled concentrations, ash can be a farmer’s worst enemy. CHRONOLOGIC CLUES Inquiry into the paleocli- mate of this planet reveals many clues about the strong relationship be- tween our sun and Earth’s life systems. There are numerous stud- ies that underline how a relatively weak sun during past GSM has consistently altered the climate, and thus agricultural productivity – through electromagnetic factors, cosmic ray flux, a shifting rain belt and in- creased volcanism. These factors have been covered in depth in previous editions of Asian Seed, and we en- courage readers to do their own research. Armed with historical fore- sight, and a sturdy foun- dation in seed breeding, disruptions can be avoided, or, at any rate, mitigated. In conclusion, we may not be able to control the sun, volcanoes or jet streams, but we can control how we are affected by them, first by studying and un- derstanding their nature; then, by making informed decisions – about how, why, when and where we produce and process seed, the basis of our sustenance and sustainability. Be sure to subscribe to Asian Seed news alerts for up-to-date coverage of events affecting the Asian seed industry. To subscribe, click ‘Contact’ on apsaseed.org, or email Steven@apsaseed.org. RAIN BELT SHIFT: The Intercontinental Tropical Convergence Zone tends to shift and expand southward during relatively cooler Grand Solar Minima, a phenomena that affects monsoons and jetstream patterns.