Solar Sun Spots and Solar Flares
Sun spots – we know what they are from science class. They are dark spots on the surface of the sun. Each spot has a corresponding polar spot on the other side of the sun. Sun spots release solar flares. These flares or electromagnetic storms are categorized as C for light, M for middle and X for most powerful. They add numbers after the letters to indicated its intensity. In early 2005, the Earth felt the effects of several solar flares from X2 – X7. Usually, it takes a flare a couple of days to reach the earth. Thus, scientists and those who monitor our satellites have some warning and time to adjust to prevent major damage. The last X7 on January 20, 2005 took just 30 minutes to reach us.1
“Shields up, Mr. Worf.” The earth has an electromagnetic field surrounding it emanating from pole to pole. These shield us from solar flares except in the polar regions.
During periods of strong geomagnetic storm activity (solar flares), the Northern Lights – aka the Aurora Borealis – can sometimes be seen as far south as California, Arizona or the Alps in Europe.
The next Solar Maximum is in 2012 and sun spot activity will increase by 50% as the date approaches.1 Those flares in early 2005 may have had an influence in our weather and the earth. BTW, that was the year of Katrina, Rita, Stan and Wilma. Shortly after, Hurricane Stan hit Guatemala, causing extreme mudslides, and earthquake struck the already devastated region.1 & 2
“Shields are at 80% and holding!” Well, maybe not that bad, but there is a hole in the earth’s electromagnetic shield. It’s about the size of the state of California, in the Atlantic between Brazil and South Africa – very close to the hole in the atmospheric Ozone layer over Antarctica.1
Are they related? Possibly? Did man cause them? Maybe. Regardless, our shield from the sun’s increasing solar activity has a hole in it. Is this contributing to “Global Warming”? Maybe.
So how will we know if these sun flares are getting worse?
When we can see the Northern Lights in the southern U.S.
I spent 2 summers in Alaska and I never saw them. Now, I won’t be shocked if one night I look up and see them in the skies over Phoenix.
Next: Yellowstone Park’s Supervolcano
More info: NOAA Space Weather Center
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