Solar Flares & Cosmic Rays
18 March 2018
A solar storm is the common name given to a range of event emanating from
the Sun. One in particular is a coronal mass ejection, but more on that
in a bit.
Here’s a list of resources regarding the different types of solar storms and
General information is followed by where to get the physics perspective as
deep as you’d like to go, some historical details, the impact on one’s
health and remedies.
Sun spots can be seen on the surface of our closes star, but of course
take precautions if attempting to observe for yourself.
Similar to a sun spot is a coronal hole.
A coronal mass ejection event is associated with these “tears” in the
magnetic field of the sun, where magnetic material from the sun erupts into
our solar system. Sometimes it impacts the Earth to varying degrees after a
few days of travel, but many of these completely miss us.
Those are conventionally known as a solar storm, yet more are included
under that grouping as well.
Not all coronal holes lead to a solar storm.
Some coronal holes are relatively small while others have appeared as a scar
spanning nearly the entire length and much of the breadth of the solar disc
as it appears from our vantage point.
There is also solar wind, as a separate phenomenon. This is essentially
where the sun’s magnetic field extends and perturbs the space between the
sun and planets.
Somewhat related but distinctly different– there are cosmic rays (or
cosmic radiation) which is radiation emanating from other than the Sun or
our planet itself.
When clustered and hitting our planet in a surge, this is considered to be
its own kind of storm, sometimes called a cosmic storm.
In 2018 as many times before, we have been barraged by all these phenomena.
Does space weather affect us?
Yes, on many levels with potential impact to:
- Your health:
- It can become a source of stress to your body
- From your body’s perspective, stress is stress regardless of origin or cause
- Interference for radio waves, which can hinder:
- Your mobile phone’s reception for voice and data
- Communications for First Responders to emergencies
- Navigation due to interference of GPS (and in extreme cases, compass)
Keep reading to educate yourself and for possible remedies.
Dr. Tamitha Skov is one of the leading space weather experts in the world.
Her website is Space Weather Woman .com,
a nickname given by her colleagues.
She is TamithaSkov on twitter
offering daily forecasts.
See WeatherBrains #627 with
interview of Dr. Tamitha Skov
(approximately 1.5 hours).
Highlights from that interview:
- Start at 26:40 -
“Talk about solar weather…”
- 1:08:30 -
“Right now,” recorded January 2018, “the issue that we have is
that because the Sun’s magnetic field is so weak– it’s also a shield,
and its shield protects us from all that cosmic radiation junk out
there– but when it weakens, more of those cosmic rays can penetrate.”
- 1:09:12 -
“The trend is that the cosmic rays are penetrating more than
we anticipated because of this and was more than was predicted. It’s
because this particular activity cycle is so weak.”
- 1:09:28 -
“If you fly at high latitudes and intercontinentally or take
flights over the poles– which are becoming more common– you are
getting a higher dose of radiation.”
- 1:23:42 -
Tracking “particle precipitation” during storms, penetrating
- 1:26:36 -
Regarding real-time automated alerts
Referenced within that interview:
- Book: Understanding Space Weather and the Physics Behind It
- Edited By: Dolores J Knipp; McGraw-Hill, 2015, 2011
- “A NASA-funded Applied Sciences Program to develop an operational
prototype for a global, real-time, data-driven predictive system needed
to assess biologically harmful radiation exposure levels for aviation”
- Top Solar Flares
- 6 March 2018, “The worsening cosmic ray situation”
- 3-10 September 2017, X9.3
- 4 November 2003, X28+ #1 massive solar storm (coronal mass ejection)
- We are entering a Solar Grand Minimum (but not a Maunder Minimum)
- Currently, Sun’s poles are out of phase and wreaking havoc with its magnetic fields
- The Carrington Solar Flare
- Occurred during solar minimum (not maximum)
- Maunder Minimum
- Span of 78 years circa 1700
- Sun lacked any sunspots
- “Solar minimum” such as “Maunder minimum” is a pseudo-cycle:
- Appears to be cyclic yet elastic or maybe intersection of multiple cycles
- Not understood well enough to make predictions
Impact On Our Health
Perhaps a little woo for some tastes but good overview of health impact:
How Solar Flares & Geomagnetic Storms Affect Us
This is for purposes of information only and is not medical advice.
Individuals with personal or family history of health concerns should
first discuss this with a medical doctor before attempting.
One approach to consider for mitigating effects of solar storms, cosmic
radiation and disturbances to Earth’s magnetic field:
(no affiliation beyond having confirmed the physics of their claims by using
a multimeter; see below).
These are some variations tried on a regular basis (e.g., weekly or monthly)
with positive results:
- When near a beach or shore of lake or river, standing barefoot in the
water for a few minutes every few weeks or more during intense solar
- Of course, some weather conditions, latitudes and seasons accommodate
this more than others.
- Slightly less than ankle deep was sufficient.
- From a physics perspective, the goal is continuous contact with water.
- Sea water (salt water) works faster than fresh water due to being more
electrically conductive from the additional minerals it contains.
- In colder temperatures, feet felt coldest at about the 1 minute mark,
then felt warmer apparently from increased blood circulation.
- Second best, standing barefoot on damp sand or soil adjacent to the body
of water. This required about 20 minutes every other week or so.
- If the sea is too far away, standing barefoot on damp grass such as from
morning dew for at least 20 minutes was sufficient.
- However, ensure that you’re actually on land.
- Avoid grass atop a structural lid such as subterranean parking area of
an apartment or high-rise building.
- Some urban parks are actually lids to underground parking or water
reservoirs, so go elsewhere for best results (or give it much more time).
- Consumer products are available: Earthing products
- No affiliation.
- The physics of their products have been verified using a multimeter;
Obviously, avoid this type of activity if there's any chance of an electrical storm.
The idea is that your body becomes electrically grounded, thereby
dissipating static electricity from excessive positive charge.
Once zero current is attained, the flow of electron charges reverses, and
your body then draws negative charge.
You can easily measure this with an inexpensive
at the 200 milliamp (mA) setting.
(Don’t get caught-up on the common associations of “positive” or “negative”
charges. Linguistics doesn’t always match physics, and this is such an
- spaceweather.com -
good general overview of current conditions
- real-time tracking of solar conditions, intended for HAM radio operators
- “reporting on physics sometimes inaccurate but good enough for HAM radio ops”
- Links to cosmic ray research: