The Northern Lights or aurora borealis are the most common example of the effects of space weather (photo:dpa)

The dark side of the Northern Lights

The Northern Lights (aurora borealis) are one of the most spectacular and beautiful sights on Earth. They are caused by high energy particles from the Sun as they interact with the Earth’s magnetic field and upper atmosphere. But these same particles have a darker side. They present a real threat to 21st century life on Earth which depends increasingly on technology. Scientists are stepping up efforts to set up early warning systems to mitigate the effects of this ‘space weather’.

<i>Twenty-first century life relies on technology every day. GPS navigation, air travel, satellite and mobile phone communications, power grids and financial services have become essential. But these ...

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Dr. Emily Baldwin
Though extreme events such as that of 1859 may be rare, the threat to the infrastructure of the modern world is severe enough to demand attention
read more about it in the report
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