Geomagnetic storms

Other Names:
Magnetic storms
Solar flares produce bursts of ionizing radiation (sudden emission of electrons and protons) which result in geomagnetic storms in the earth's ionosphere. During solar flares the strength of the earth's magnetic field can fluctuate by 10% causing rapid geomagnetic anomalies causing compasses to give false readings. The storms, which may last several days or even weeks, produce widespread changes in the radioreflecting layers of the earth's atmosphere and can upset long-distance radio transmissions. This leads to poor radio reception (and even to complete black out on some frequencies for stations in polar regions), severe interference to telegraph communications, and even overloading of power lines and transformer-blowout. Geomagnetic storms may also affect weather patterns, to an extent which varies with the 11 year sunspot cycle. The storms may begin suddenly and simultaneously all over the earth within about one minute.

Geomagnetic storms have also been linked with mental disorders.

A study correlated 192 geomagnetic storms recorded between 976 and 1986 with hospital admissions in the area of Lothian, Scotland, and found a 36% increase in male admissions for manic or psychotic depression in the period eight to 14 days following the storms. Laboratory animals have shown the pineal gland is sensitive to changes in magnetic fields, leading to decreases in the brain messenger seretonin, and also melatonin, the chemical that regulate the daily "biological clock". There is also an increase in adrenalin-like hormones. Women may be unaffected because of the complex interaction of sex hormones.
Problem Type:
D: Detailed problems
Date of last update
01.01.2000 – 00:00 CET