New Northern Lights alert as ‘solar activity certainly isn’t over’

A new alert for the Northern Lights has been issued for the UK, with the possibility of the aurora phenomenon making another appearance this week. According to space weather expert and meteorologist Jim Dale, the recent solar activity is far from over.

Speaking to the Express, he said: “It certainly isn’t over. The geomagnetic field ebbing and flowing but, clear skies allowing, there’s every chance of repeat performances over the next 10 days. Luck is required, as per usual.”

Meanwhile, Krista Hammond, a space weather forecaster at the Met Office, suggested that we could see the phenomenon more frequently in the coming years, although not uniformly so. She explained on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “This is all down to what’s known as the sun’s solar cycle. The sun has a roughly 11-year cycle of activity, and this is from what’s known as solar minimum, which then goes towards solar maximum, and back to solar minimum. And we’re now approaching the solar maximum.”

She further clarified: “What defines solar maximum is when we see the most number of sunspots on the sun. And it is sunspots that drive what we see as space weather, which is solar flares.”

Ms Hammond added: “As we approach solar maximum, it means the frequency that we see these space weather events, which cause the aurora, increases. But this doesn’t actually dictate the magnitude of those events.”

“What we saw last weekend was quite a unique situation. We had multiple eruptions of plasma from the sun, which also caught up with each other as it arrived at Earth. And then, when that interacted with the Earth’s upper atmosphere, magnetic field, we viewed it as the aurora.”

“And this coincided with clear skies, and it arrived overnight, so we were able to see it really far south. We got sightings across the whole of the UK from last weekend’s event. So, while we would expect to see it more in the way of space weather, whether it’s of the magnitude that allows us to see it at these southern latitudes is, that’s a little bit more tricky to forecast.”

ref: CoventryLive