As unpredictable solar storms ravage Earth, AI comes to the rescue | Tech News

As unpredictable solar storms ravage Earth, AI comes to the rescue

Artificial intelligence (AI) could become a useful tool to track the terrifying solar storms that are constantly hitting Earth.

| Updated on: Jan 31 2023, 13:10 IST
NASA: From Solar Winds, Solar Flares to CME, check how solar phenomena impact Earth
Solar Storm
1/5 The harrowing thing is that it will not just be China that would be affected by such a devastating solar storm. (NASA)
Solar Storm
2/5 Solar Flares: Solar flares are photon flares emitted from the Sun which travel from the flare site. They are rated on the basis of their intensity with the highest being an X-rated solar flare. It can cause power and radio blackouts and are responsible for the stunning phenomenon known to us as the Northern Lights or Auroras. (NASA/SDO)
Solar Storm
3/5 Coronal Mass Ejections (CME): CMEs are massive plasma clouds carrying photons that are ejected from the Sun. CME occurs during the solar cycle and is at peak in the middle of the cycle. (NASA)
Solar Storm
4/5 Solar Winds: Solar winds are high speed winds coming from holes in the Sun called Coronal holes. These holes can form anywhere on the surface of the Sun. If these solar winds prevail near the solar equator, they can cause impact on Earth, according to NASA. (Pixabay)
Solar Storm
5/5 Solar Energetic Particles: Solar energetic particles are emitted from the Sun during Coronal Mass Ejections. These are charged particles; hence they follow the magnetic field lines between the Sun and the Earth and if they pass the magnetic fields near Earth, they have an impact. (NASA)
Solar Storm
View all Images
Know how AI can help in tracking the unpredictable solar storms directed at Earth. (Pixabay)

Solar storms are hitting Earth almost constantly as the Sun reaches the peak of its current solar cycle. And the worst part is that we cannot predict whether the dangerous sunspots currently present on the Sun will explode to create more storms. That is because we do not have a method to predict solar storms. We only know about them after the Sun has erupted, which gives us a warning period between 2-48 hours, depending on the type of solar disturbance. But now, some scientists believe that artificial intelligence (AI) could be a crucial tool to predict solar storms weeks or even months ahead of time.

Dr. Andy Smith from Northumbria University in UK has been awarded more than 5,00,000 pounds to develop an AI program that can reliably predict solar disturbances ahead of time, according to a report by SpaceRef. Notably, the UK had added severe space weather to the UK National Risk Assessment in 2011. Severe space weather refers to solar storms, coronal mass ejections (CME)-based storms, solar flare eruptions and solar wind attacks that can have significant impact on satellites, mobile phone communications, Internet as well as power grids.

Can AI predict solar storms?

Dr. Smith recently received a Research Fellowship from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) to find out whether artificial intelligence and data-set based learning models can be created to develop systems capable of forecasting space weather and issue warnings for severe solar storms much ahead in time.

For this, Dr. Smith and his team will now analyze huge amounts of data around the Sun collected over a period of 20 years. This data comes from various satellites that have been monitoring the Sun as well as Earth-based observatories which has been tasked with the same.

“This research will take a leap forward in understanding and predicting when we are at risk of suffering from these surges, caused by rapid changes in the Earth's magnetic field…The technology we are developing through this project could protect the Earth from the impact of geomagnetic storms as we could predict when such events would occur, allowing us to prepare,” said Dr. Smith.

He also believes that there is a big and urgent need to build systems capable of predicting space weather. “One of the primary ways in which space weather can impact society is through an unexpected surge of energy in power networks and pipelines on the ground. These surges can accelerate the ageing of power systems, or even lead to the immediate failure of components such as power transformers, leading to a complete loss of power,” he said.

“Our reliance on electrical power networks means that a storm on the same scale as the Carrington Event would have devastating consequences today, making an accurate forecasting system even more essential,” he added.

Follow HT Tech for the latest tech news and reviews , also keep up with us on Whatsapp channel,Twitter, Facebook, Google News, and Instagram. For our latest videos, subscribe to our YouTube channel.

First Published Date: 31 Jan, 13:01 IST