Solar max ‘gloom and doom’ claims overstated: Expert

August 28th, 2010 - 1:06 pm ICT by ANI  

Melbourne, Aug 28 (ANI): All the hype about how disastrous the solar max could be for the entire power grid of Earth is unnecessary, a leading astronomer from Australia has said.

But Dr Phil Wilkinson, assistant director with the Australian Bureau of Meteorology’s Ionospheric Prediction Service, said that the claims that this coming solar maximum will be the most violent in 100 years are not factual.

“All this talk about gloom and doom has selling power, but I’m certain it’s overstated,” ABC Science quoted Wilkinson as saying.

“[It's] going far beyond what’s realistic and could be worrying or concerning for people who don’t really understand the underlying science behind it all,” Wilkinson said.

A solar max shows heightened sunspot activity on the solar surface. Because different parts of the Sun rotate at different speeds, these magnetic field lines twist and stretch eventually snapping like elastic bands.

When they snap they produce an eruption of electromagnetic energy called a solar flare, accompanied by a coronal mass ejection (CME). If and when the CME is directed towards Earth, the charged particles within the CME slam into the magnetosphere, resulting in the northern and southern auroral lights.

“It means we could see auroral activity over all of Australia rather than just the higher latitudes. It’s unusual, but not unprecedented,” Wilkinson said.

“We monitor solar activity and issue warnings if something is heading our way. That will be at least a few hours [in advance], enough time to prepare,” he said.

Wilkinson added that even if there were potential danger to the power grid, it would only be regional and not global. (ANI)

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