The sun and its activity
Forecasting solar storms, fish personalities
18 September 2012
This week in the Planet Earth Podcast: why accurately forecasting solar storms is becoming increasingly important; and how understanding how fish shoal could interest economists.
With the sun approaching the peak of its regular 11-year cycle in 2013, politicians are concerned about how this will affect us here on Earth. Increased activity means more solar storms and coronal mass ejections: the force of these storms sends charged particles hurtling towards the Earth. They crash into Earth's magnetic field and create geomagnetic storms leading to beautiful auroral displays.
But they have a major downside. They can shut down electrical grids and destroy satellites irreparably. Indeed in 1989, a solar storm made its presence felt when almost the entire city of Quebec in Canada lost power.
And as we become increasing reliant on satellites for weather forecasting, communications, bank transactions, internet access, weather forecasting and more, the effects of solar storms could be far-reaching.
Sue Nelson meets solar storm researchers Richard Horne, Nigel Meredith and Sarah Glauert from NERC's British Antarctic Survey to find out how they're trying to improve space weather forecasting.
Click the play button above to listen now.
A full text transcript is available.
Later, Richard Hollingham goes to the Royal Veterinary College to find out why research on fish personalities won't just help us understand more about their biology, but may be of interest to economists.
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