How changes in solar activity affect the Earth
Sun and the planets in our solar system are intertwined in more ways than we imagine. The connection between the sun and the Earth is evident in many natural phenomena, as it’s the Sun’s energy that drives the Earth’s weather system. This is why even the smallest changes in solar activity have a big impact on Earth’s climate. In fact, many scientists now believe that the impact of these changes in solar activity can be complex and profound on Earth.
The Sun is relatively constant when compared to other stars in the universe. During its 11-year cycle called the solar cycle, the amount of light that it emits varies by only 0.1 percent. However even this impacts the Earth, because the light that reaches the
Earth’s atmosphere, provides 2,500 times more energy than all other sources combined, including the radioactivity emitted from the Earth’s core.
Due to these high energy levels, small changes in solar activity can impact the way we live. For example, energized particles from the sun can damage the ozone layer in Earth’s stratosphere. When the ozone layer in a particular region is damaged, the temperature contrast between the tropical and polar regions increase. In turn, this leads to irregular motions or eddies that fuel the jet stream. As a result, the distribution of storms over the tropical and equatorial regions can change, depending on the direction and flow of the jet stream. Such a situation leads to unpredictable weather and violent storms in these regions.
Besides the impact on storms, scientists also believe that changes in solar activity can lead to extremely cold winters. Data shows that a fall in sunspots leads to a drop in the sun’s ultraviolet radiation, that in turn can lead to a regional cooling phenomenon.
Other than climate, changes in solar activity can affect electrical grids on Earth too. Scientists believe that rogue flares in the Sun can damage electrical grids, or even knock out the communication satellites that hover over the Earth. One of the strongest categories called X-class solar flares can create havoc on Earth. The medium class M-class flare can affect the northern lights on Earth, and even the lowest C-class flares have some measure of impact on Earth, according to NASA. Due to these profound impacts, scientists are keeping a close watch on even the smallest changes in solar activity.
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