Fears of disruption as big solar storm hits the Earth: The Human Rescue Team (Referring a BBC NEWS)


8 March 2012 Last updated at 10:39 GMT

Fears of disruption as big solar storm hits the Earth


The Earth is currently being battered by a storm of charged particles from the Sun, which could disrupt power grids, satellite navigation and plane routes.

The storm – the largest in five years – will bombard the Earth’s magnetic field throughout Thursday.

It was triggered by a pair of solar flares – the largest of their kind – earlier this week.

As a result, the Northern Lights may be visible at lower latitudes.

The effects will be most intense in polar regions, and aircraft may be advised to change their routings to avoid these areas.

In the UK, the best chance to see them will be on Thursday night, the British Geological Survey says.

The Sun’s activity rises and falls through an 11-year cycle, and has in recent months been seen to launch more of the solar flares that are causing the current storm.

The cycle is due to peak in 2013.

The flares have resulted in what is known as a coronal mass ejection, "the technical term for what is really just a big ball of gas travelling at 2,000 kilometres per second", according to Doug Biesiecker from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The incoming gas of charged particles could affect satellites and will launch a geomagnetic storm in the Earth’s protective magnetic field, Mr Beisiecker told the BBC.

"This magnetic field keeps harmful radiation out. Now, the geomagnetic storm isn’t going to take that magnetic field away from the Earth, but… it’s going to shake it.

"And if you shake a magnetic field you generate things like electric currents in the atmosphere and say, in the power grid that criss-crosses pretty much every country on the planet now."

Are you an amateur astronomer? Have you seen the effects of the solar storm? You can share your thoughts and experience by filling in the form below

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