All Weather News

What is Space Weather?

21 Feb 2017, 8:09 am

The Sun is the center of the solar system and the most important energy source for life on Earth. From time to time, the Sun emits bursts of radiation, high-speed electrons and protons, and other highly energetic particles into space — phenomena known as space weather. If a large burst is directed at Earth, these particles and radiation can disrupt the technologies we depend upon. These storms have the potential to interfere with radio transmitters, satellite operations and communications, navigation and GPS, and the electric power grid.

NOAA space weather infographic. For more space weather infographics and videos, please visit http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/content/education-and-outreach.

 

As conditions develop, forecasters at NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center issue space weather alerts, watches, and warnings to inform its users — electric grid operators, satellite operators, airlines and more — about what to expect, so they can take action and protect infrastructure and the public.

Although rare, these strong geomagnetic storms, can require voltage corrections by power grid operators and may trigger protection devices similar to a circuit breaker. Extreme geomagnetic storms can damage high-voltage power transformers, causing damage that could take days, weeks, or even longer to be repaired, depending on the size of the power grid.

 

Space weather can also produce spectacular aurora borealis (northern and southern lights). These colorful beams of dancing lights, typically seen moving across the polar skies, are the result of electrons colliding with the upper reaches of the Earth’s atmosphere. Here’s the current aurora forecast, issued by NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center.

 

All information courtesy of NOAA.

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