What are some of the effects of solar flares on Earth? (Intermediate)

I already know that solar flares cause the earth's atmosphere to become more ionized and has an effect on radio signals which causes a disruption in wireless communication. Is there any additional information you can give me on this idea and the effect of solar flares?

There are many effects of solar flares (and related solar processes) on Earth. I suggest you go check this site which lists the effects of the Sun on the Earth, including solar flares.

The direct effects of solar flares are mainly related to communications and radio transmissions, which you already seem to know about. Solar flares are often associated with coronal mass ejections, the ejections of electrons, protons and ions from the Sun. These charged particles have some other effects on Earth. The Earth has a natural protection against these charged particles: its magnetic field and atmosphere that blocks most of them. However, some charged particles can enter the atmosphere at the magnetic poles.

One of the most spectacular (and extremely beautiful) consequence of this are auroras. When charged particles (especially electrons) find their way at the poles, they get accelerated along the lines of the magnetic field and collide with the particles in the atmosphere which makes them glow. That glow is what we see as an aurora.

There are also health issues for airline pilots and astronauts. For those of us that spend most of our time on the ground, the magnetic field and the atmosphere block out almost all of the harmful radiation and charged particles. This is not the case when you go up in the atmosphere. Airline pilots that fly at great altitude, and especially near the poles, are exposed to more of these. The same goes for astronauts. This results in a higher incidence of cancer among airline pilots and cabin crew. Astronauts have even reported seeing flashes of light because of high energy protons hitting their eyes!

Last updated Jan 28, 2019

About the Author

Amelie Saintonge

Amelie is working on ways to detect the signals of galaxies from radio maps.

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