Keeping an Eye on Space Weather

Share this story:
Thursday, October 6, 2016

In The Conversation newsletter, scientists Delores Knipp and Brett Carter explore the significance of severe geomagnetic storm events and their impact on communications technology through descriptive historical accounts. This informative article outlines the effects of strong magnetic field fluctuations during magnetic solar storms from as early as 1841, citing examples throughout the 20th century, including the effects of "coronal mass ejections", or CMEs on communications during the Second World War.

Solar flare of 1967 image
The great solar flare of 23 May 1967 (bright region in top half of solar image). Extreme emissions were recorded in the radio, visible, ultraviolet and X-ray portions of the electromagnetic spectrum. NSO H alpha

A Geomagnetic storm on September 18–19, 1941, appeared to have influenced sea battles and supply missions in the North Atlantic by disrupting short-wave radio transmissions and by brightening the night sky enough to break cover for Allied supply ships on route from North America to England.

The eighth most intense magnetic storm, since magnetic records began, caused confusion when sytems responsible for detecting incoming ballistic missiles across North America were negatively impacted and could have been misinterpreted as an impending attack.

These historical examples clearly emphasize the importance of furthering our understanding and monitoring of space-weather. They conclude that as our “technology advances so must our knowledge of the near-Earth space environment.”

Link to full article.