The Potential Impact of a Severe Solar Storm on Earth: Are We Ready? – Science Podcast

Surviving a Solar Storm: Understanding Space Weather and Its Implications on Earth’s Infrastructure

The sun is currently in the midst of its 11-year activity cycle, with powerful solar eruptions sending a stream of particles towards Earth. These geomagnetic storms are set to produce spectacular auroras in both hemispheres, but they can also have less appealing consequences. Madeleine Finlay speaks to Dr Lisa Upton, a solar scientist at the Southwest Research Institute, about how the mysterious inner workings of the sun create space weather and how solar events can significantly disrupt Earth’s infrastructure.

Dr. Upton explains the complex processes within the sun that lead to space weather events like solar eruptions. These events can send particles hurtling towards Earth, impacting communication systems, satellites, and power grids. Understanding these processes is crucial for predicting and mitigating the impacts of such events on human infrastructure.

The conversation also highlights the importance of preparing for worst-case scenarios when it comes to space weather. Dr. Upton discusses the potential consequences of a major solar event and the challenges we may face in protecting critical infrastructure from the aftermath. It becomes clear that early warning systems and improved communication between scientific researchers and policymakers are crucial for developing effective strategies for dealing with extreme space weather events.

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