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2003-15 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 7, 2003

Recovering from a Solar Storm

EGS Presentation: High-altitude Effects of Geomagnetic Storms

Contact:

David Hosansky
UCAR Communications
Telephone: (303) 497-8611
E-mail: hosansky@ucar.edu

NICE, France—Geomagnetic storms in the upper atmosphere have far-reaching effects on technological systems. The storms, associated with coronal mass ejections that send large amounts of matter from the Sun's outer atmosphere, can disrupt communications satellites, radio waves, and even power plant operations. Scientists are exploring why some of the storms can impact large portions of the upper atmosphere for many hours.

Alan Burns, from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), will discuss some effects of geomagnetic storms at the annual meeting of the European Geophysical Society in Nice. A researcher with NCAR’s High Altitude Observatory, he will focus on the dynamics that lead to the often rapid recovery of the thermosphere and ionosphere from the storms.

Burns, working with HAO’s Wenbin Wang and NCAR director Tim Killeen, has found that quasi-cyclonic disturbances occur during medium- to large-scale geomagnetic storms. Typically the upper atmosphere recovers in about 12 hours, but the storms in some locations can continue for 24 hours or longer when vortices form that maintain the disturbed conditions. The researchers have also found that disturbances can be associated with distinct pockets of rising air.

About the presenter: Alan Burns is a project scientist in the High Altitude Observatory at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, where he has worked since 2000. A physicist with a Ph.D. from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, he specializes in modeling upper-atmospheric phenomena.


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