The Sun is more than 92 million miles away, but its impacts are felt close to home.
Our technologically dependent society is increasingly vulnerable to powerful solar storms that spew millions of tons of charged matter toward Earth. These space weather events can imperil the health of astronauts and passengers on high-altitude flights, distort GPS signals, scramble satellite operations, and disrupt communications and electric utility systems on Earth.
At NCAR, our researchers are working to better understand the Sun's complex and chaotic magnetic fields and how they spawn these potentially disruptive solar storms. As a more detailed understanding of the Sun's basic physics emerges, scientists are getting better at forecasting these storms farther in advance.
We are also studying how these storms interact with Earth's upper atmosphere, which is crucial to understanding the full impact of solar activity on Earth.