While United Nations officials fret about manmade global warming, the flipping of the sun’s magnetic field could cause storms and even disrupt satellites, according to scientists.
About every 11 years, the two magnetic poles of the sun reverse as the the star’s inner magnetic dynamo adjusts itself. The flipping of the sun’s magnetic poles is a big event for our solar system as the sun’s heliosphere — the extent of the sun’s magnetic influence — reaches beyond even Pluto.
“The chances of solar magnetic storms occurring are also high. These storms carry a vast amount of charged particles and magnetic fields through interplanetary space and can pose a threat to satellite operations, telecommunications, air traffic on polar routes and power grids in countries at high latitudes,” Dibyendu Nandi of Kolkata’s Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, told The Times of India.
It’s not just Earthlings’ weather that could be affected, reports the Times of India. Weather in space will be at its most hazardous in the coming months as the sun’s magnetic poles begin to flip.
Other scientists argue that Earth will be spared from the effects of a solar flip. In fact, they say, a solar flip is beneficial.
Todd Hoeksema, who runs the Stanford’s Wilcox Observatory, and Stanford solar physicist Phil Scherrer told Space.com that the “field reversal is nothing to worry about… it won’t spawn any big solar storms or otherwise cause problems for people here on Earth. Its chief effect on us, in fact, will likely be beneficial.”
Space.com reports that the “sun’s slowly rotating magnetic field induces an electric current in a huge surface that extends from our star’s equator far out into the solar system. During field reversals, this ‘current sheet’ gets wavier, providing a better barrier against galactic cosmic rays — super-energetic particles that can damage satellites and harm astronauts orbiting the planet.”
U.N. delegates are debating how to create a global mechanism to curb global warming, mainly by cutting greenhouse gas emissions and forcing developed countries to subsidize the “greening” of developing countries.
The magnitude of the sun’s effect on the Earth’s climate is still being heavily debated by scientists.