The Power of Solar Storms To Our Fragile Planet
Natural disasters occur when least expected all over the world. Disasters affect countless lives and cost millions of dollars. Hurricanes, tornados, and tsunamis occur with such regularity throughout the world that society has developed warning systems and is prepared to rebound from these disasters as quickly as possible. One disaster that most people do not think about is solar storms. Research shows that solar storms have been documented since the 1800’s, however, our government has no strategy in place to handle the aftermath of a powerful solar storm. It is important to use resources and data to predict solar storms and prepare for the possible catastrophe because solar storms cause geomagnetic disturbances, have negative effects on our communication infrastructure and can be harmful to the physiological well being of individuals. A geomagnetic disturbance is a disturbance to the Earth’s upper atmosphere caused by large eruptions from the sun, also know as coronal mass ejections, traveling towards Earth. (Britannica, 2013) It is important for individuals to understand what causes solar storms in order to learn how to predict a future occurrence. The sun’s surface is made of white-hot matter. The matter flows turbulently over the sun like water through a river and cause the shifting of strong magnetic fields, creating dark spots. When these dark spots converge it releases solar flares. Solar flares are a mass of charged particles, a CME, hurled in to space. We have equipment that monitor the sun for solar flares, but it becomes a concern when the CME takes aim and propels itself toward our planet. A solar flare is made up of electrons and protons, called plasma, that are powerfully charged and once it reaches the Earth’s surface creates a disturbance to the magnetosphere. Solar Storms happen in cycles averaging 11 years from beginning to end. Understanding how a solar flare affects the Earth’s atmosphere will...
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