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Solar Activity, Global Coherence Monitoring System and Saudi Arabia HRV Study

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Solar Activity, Global Coherence Monitoring System and Saudi Arabia HRV Study

Thank you for your ongoing support of and participation in the Global Coherence Initiative. In this commentary, I will discuss GCI's Saudi Arabia HRV Study and some of the study data collected from the Global Coherence Monitoring System's Saudi Arabia Sensor Site, but first I will summarize some recent solar activity.

Current Solar Activity

We recently celebrated the summer solstice, followed by a full moon. This full moon also was called a super moon: It was as much as 13% bigger and 30% brighter than other full moons in 2013. The summer solstice was accompanied by a medium-sized (M2) class solar flare from sunspot AR1777.

Solar Flare from sunspot AR1777

Figure 1. The summer solstice was accompanied by a medium-sized (M2) class solar flare from sunspot AR1777. Courtesy by NASA.

Solar Cycle 24 has been under way a little over four years. In 2008, at the start of the cycle, the sun experienced its deepest minimum of sunspots in nearly 100 years, according to a March story in NASA Science News. The current predicted and observed size makes this the smallest sunspot cycle since Solar Cycle 14, which had a maximum of 64.2 sunspots in February 1906. The solar maximum was expected in May 2013, but solar physicist Dean Pesnell of the Goddard Space Flight Center explained in the Science News story that he believed this solar maximum was double-peaked. Sunspot counts increased in 2011 and dipped in 2012, and Pesnell expected them to rebound again sometime in 2013. He predicted that another peak would occur in 2013 and possibly last into 2014. Pesnell also noted a similarity between Solar Cycle 24 and Solar Cycle 14: It also was double-peaked. So, if the current cycle behaves like Solar Cycle 14, he said, one peak could be seen in late 2013 and another in 2015. (See below for NASA's Solar Cycle 24 peak prediction.)

NASA's Solar Cycle 24 peak prediction

Figure 2. NASA's Solar Cycle 24 peak prediction. Courtesy by NASA

For a more thorough explanation, watch this NASA video:

GCI's Saudi Arabia HRV Study

The Saudi Arabia HRV Study was conducted in 2012 utilizing HRV data and GCI's Global Coherence Monitoring System. Dr. Abdullah Al Abdulgader, a cardiologist and director of the Prince Sultan Cardiac Center in Hofuf, directed the data collection, and we are analyzing the data here at GCI headquarters in Boulder Creek, Calif. Sixteen women who were working at the Prince Sultan Cardiac Center participated in the HRV study. The participants' HRV levels were monitored with Bodyguard HRV recorders 24 hours per day, three consecutive days per week for five months.

Heart-rate variability (HRV) is the naturally occurring beat-to-beat changes in heart rate and is what creates heart rhythms. HRV reflects autonomic nervous system (ANS) activity and serves as a tool to monitor human health and resiliency. It also is useful for exploring the dynamic interactions between physiological, mental and emotional processes. Researchers use HRV, as measured by an electrocardiogram (ECG) or pulse wave recording, to assess the state of the ANS, which controls heart and breath rates, gastrointestinal tract movement and gland secretion among other internal bodily functions. The Institute of HeartMath has utilized HRV analysis for many years to examine how positive and negative emotions influence the ANS.

We know, for example, when we are stressed, our HRV levels are consistently low and we expend more energy than we renew. Not having the energy we need to manage our emotional state can lead to physiological depletion and psychological stress. In contrast, when we have a good supply of energy, our HRV levels are higher.

The goal of the HRV study was to determine how geomagnetic disturbances and solar activity affect nervous system activity in study participants over five months.

Researchers found that when Earth's magnetic field was calmer, study participants felt better and their HRV was higher. Conversely, when the magnetic field was disturbed, HRV was lower and participants' emotional well-being and mental clarity were adversely affected. Researchers say the data is very convincing and the correlations are strong and consistent for the first three months of data analysis.

A total of 960 24-hour HRV recordings from the first three months were assessed. This was a huge study in terms of the amount data collected. HeartMath Institute Director of Research Dr. Rollin McCraty explained in a IHM Spring 2013 newsletter story that this study marked the first time HRV levels for a group had been studied for such a long period. In comparison, other published scientific studies may have gathered as much as a couple of weeks of data on HRV levels and solar and geomagnetic activity. Additionally, this study is unique because the data collected from GCI Sensor Sites also is being analyzed and included in the findings.

The Global Coherence Monitoring System Sensor Sites each contain ultrasensitive magnetic field detectors that measure frequencies such as the Schumann resonances and other geomagnetic pulsations that are in a similar range as human heart and brain frequencies. (The map below shows planned Sensor Sites. Operational sensors are in Northland, New Zealand, Boulder Creek, Calif., Hofuf, Saudi Arabia, Alberta, Canada and Baisogala, Lithuania. Click here to learn more about the Global Coherence Monitoring System.)

GCMS Sensor Site locations

Figure 3. The Global Coherence Monitoring System Sensor Site locations.

The current study results come from analysis of the first three months of HRV data. Data analysis is a time-consuming process, so the findings from additional analysis will be reported as they become available. (The effects of geomagnetic frequencies on human health and behavior have been reported in previous commentaries in more detail. For more on this topic, see the articles in GCI Commentaries from March 11, July 15 and October 7, 2009 and January 23, 2010.)

Increases in solar activity can affect the earth's magnetic field frequencies, including the Schumann resonances. The human brain and heart are very sensitive electromagnetic organs. Therefore, geomagnetic storms are strongly related to adverse human health effects. Scientific studies have demonstrated that Schumann resonances appear to interact with the brain and can alter brainwaves and neurohormone responses. For example, increases have been observed in suicides and hospital admissions for mental and psychiatric disorders, depression and fatigue following geomagnetic storms. Also, changes in solar and geomagnetic activity can trigger migraine attacks and correspond with decreases in birthrates and increases in mortality rates from strokes and heart attacks. Additionally, clinical studies have noted significant changes in blood pressure, blood flow, cardiac arrhythmia and heart-rate variability following periods of solar and geomagnetic activity.

Findings in the HRV Study, which monitored a physiological component — HRV levels — are in close alignment with findings in the GCI Interconnectedness Study, which involved 1,600 GCI members from 51 countries at the beginning of Solar Cycle 24. (Review results from that study in the Oct. 6, 2010, GCI Commentary.) Disturbances in the earth's magnetic field during the Interconnectedness Study correlated with adverse psychological, mental and emotional effects.

Dr. McCraty said much more data analysis remains to be done, and additional findings will be reported in future commentaries and articles.

Scientists don't know how Solar Cycle 24 will play out, but, as noted above, it appears that peak solar activity could continue into 2014 and possibly 2015. Considering that human heart and brain frequencies are strongly affected by increased solar and geomagnetic activity, we all can and should work on our ability to adapt to this. We know now that geomagnetic disturbances can cause lower HRV, thus affecting our well-being. Tools such as the Introductory Heart Coherence Technique or any personal practices you may use, can improve HRV and well-being and therefore help our bodies adapt to external influences.

Annette Deyhle, Ph.D. and GCI Research Team