Solar activity increases the amount of rays they discharge on our planet.
This is suggested by a study that when bursts of high-speed solar particles enter the atmosphere, the number of lightning strikes increases.And because solar activity is closely monitored by satellites, it might be possible to predict when these dangerous storms will hit.
“The rays pose a significant threat”, said Chris Scott, a researcher at the University of Reading in the UK, and lead author of the study. “About 24,000 people are struck by lightning every year, so any information or early warning about the severity of thunderstorms is useful”, said the scientist. As the Sun rotates, the ferocious plasma ball launches charged particles that travel at a speed of between 400 and 800km per second. The arrival of these solar winds into the atmosphere can cause the beautiful luminescence of the polar auroras, but this research shows how they can also have an influence on the climate”. The solar wind is not continuous, it has slow and fast currents”.
“As the Sun rotates, these currents can be propelled one after the other, so if a fast solar wind hits a slow wind, it causes a concentration”, Scott explained. Opposite effect Scott and his team observed that when the speed and intensity of solar winds increases, so does the rate of lightning strikes. According to the researchers, the weather turbulence lasts more than a month after the particles reach Earth. Using data from northern Europe, experts noted an average of 422 rays in the 40
days following the arrival of high-speed solar wind, compared to the 321 rays of the previous 40 days. The finding is surprising, explained Scott, because it was thought that the increase of the solar wind would have the
The opposite effect.
“It is unexpected because these particle currents bring with them a reinforced magnetic field, and this protects the Earth from very high energy cosmic rays from outside the solar system, which are generated when a supernova explodes and accelerate particles to speed of light”,he added. Earlier research showed that cosmic rays from space can trigger the rate of
lightning strikes, and solar particles were thought to produce a shield effect that could reduce lightning on Earth.
“Instead, we see a marked increase in lightning. It turns out that these solar winds bring with them a population of slightly lower energy particles and they are increasing the rate of lightning”, said Scott. Although they do not know the mechanism with certainty, the scientists suggest that the particles can be penetrating the clouds of storms, facilitating that they
discharge electric energy in the form of rays. What we need to do now is to track these energy particles through the atmosphere,
to see where they end up”.
“We know that these particles are not energetic enough to reach the ground, so they must stop at some place in the lower layers of the atmosphere, and we need to know where”, he said. However, while it remains to be answered how they do it, there is abundant information on when the particles arrive, which could help predict storms.
“These solar wind currents are very predictable”. “We know that the Sun rotates every 27 days, so there is a very strong recurrence
“If we see them at any given time, we know that 27 days later they will return”, Scott said. The information was collected in Europe, but scientists believe the effect is global.