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Solar flaring warning issued

May 31, 2011


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A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole could reach Earth on or about June 4th. . Credit: SDO/AIA.

Cape Town – The Space Weather Centre has warned that the sun is undergoing some instability, which has implications for electronic communications.

“There is a very active area on the sun as rotated onto the invisible solar disc. This active area has got the potential for more flaring for the next five to six days,” space weather forecaster Kobus Olckers of the Space Weather Warning Centre at the Hermanus Magnetic Observatory told News24.

He said that communications and electronic systems might be affected.

“The internet could be a little slower for the next week or so and especially long distance communications.”

Polar routes

Scientists recognize three major categories of solar flares. X-class flares are big and are major events that can trigger planet-wide radio blackouts. M-class flares are medium-sized; they can cause brief radio blackouts that affect Earth’s polar regions. C-class flares are small with few noticeable consequences here on Earth.

The space weather website says that small to medium (C- and M-class) flaring on the sun may occur in the next few days.

“More M-class flaring has been detected. C-class flaring underway with D-layer absorption over the region,” it said on Monday.

The D-layer is the innermost layer of the ionosphere, about 60km to 90km above the earth’s surface. There was also a prediction of a coronal mass ejection (CME) in the outlook.

“A new active area capable of flaring is rapidly growing on the solar disk. Flaring is certain. There is also a possibility of CME activity which could cause further trouble when the new active area becomes geo-effective.”

Olckers said that aeroplanes on polar routes may be diverted as those planes could be affected. Scientists are watching the sun over the short term to determine whether there is any danger.


“That active area isn’t in a geo-effective position at the moment. It will be in an active area in about five to six days from now,” said Olckers.

“We will keep you posted and see how it develops. It’s rapidly developing at the moment but it can get into a non-threatening format over the next few days,” he added.

He said that people need not take any special precautions.

“The levels of X-rays aren’t enough to really affect biological systems. This time around its technological systems.”

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