Graph courtesy of NWS Space Environment Center
(Boulder, CO) The National Weather Service's Space Environment Center announced today that the planet is under bombardment by high levels of solar radiation, and has ranked the event as a category S3 radiation storm. The massive influx of solar protons was likely caused by a solar flare.
Such radiation storms pose a danger to astronauts, and increase the risk of radiation exposure to persons in high-altitude aircraft. Electronic systems on the ground are at increased risk of disruption, and satellites are much more likely to be damaged during an S3 storm.
We are entering what many scientists are predicitng to be a particularly active period in solar activity, and today's storm may be a harbinger of a disruptive solar cycle that will peak between 2010 and 2012.
I noticed a great deal of static on WGTE-FM 91.3 this afternoon, a station that normally comes in clear at my home. I am a bit under the weather today, but there is little research yet linking human health and solar storms.