|Wed, May 29, 2013|
CONCERNS OVER EFFECT OF SUN FLARES ON EARTH
Climate scientists are examining the effects on Earth’s climate following four recent massive solar flares.
The flares hit the planet for two successive days, each emitting an energy equivalent to a billion hydrogen bombs.
Scientists say the latest flare might have caused geomagnetic storms on Earth affecting satellites and communications systems, as well as accelerating a change to the planet’s climate.
All of the flares were tens of times the size of Earth, originating from an AR1748 sunspot, an active region just out of sight over the left side of the Sun.
Four significant X-class solar flares left the Sun in just 48 hours, sending powerful bursts of radiation into space, according to Space Weather website.
The flares were associated with a solar phenomenon, called a coronal mass ejection (CME).
Although the sunspot is not directly facing Earth, the last flare produced a CME with an Earth-directed component, the Space Weather website reports.
If the flares are directed at Earth they can cause long lasting radiation storms, according to NASA.
When CME occurs it propels bursts of billions of tons of solar particles and electromagnetic fluctuations that can reach Earth's atmosphere and harm satellites, communications systems, and even ground-based technologies and power grids.
The March 1989 CME produced by a X15-class solar flare resulting in a geomagnetic storm that caused the collapse of Hydro-Québec's electricity transmission system in Canada.
The latest 2013 flares were classified as X-class that denotes the most intense flares from the Sun.
According to NASA the most powerful flare measured by modern methods occurred on November 4, 2003 during the previous solar maximum. It was so strong that the sensors were cut off when estimating the burst of radiation at X28.
The coming solar maximum explains the increased numbers of flares. The largest X-class flare in this cycle so far was an X6.9 on August 9, 2011.
The solar cycle was discovered in 1843 and scientists have been tracking it ever since.
Solar flare clusters are emitted from the Sun approximately every 11 years and solar activity is currently ramping up toward what is known as solar maximum.
Solar flares hitting the planet could have a double whammy effect on Earth’s climate, as carbon dioxide particles per millimeter (PPM) in the atmosphere are at 400 PPM - and rising - due to humans’ excessive burning fossil fuels.
Patrick Cusick - Editor.