"Solar Tsunami" Pummels Earth, Leaving a Trail of Pretty Pictures "Solar Tsunami" Pummels Earth, Leaving a Trail of Pretty Pictures
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"Solar Tsunami" Pummels Earth, Leaving a Trail of Pretty Pictures

by Ben Jervey

August 7, 2010
This photo, taken Sunday, August 1 by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, shows the northern hemisphere of the sun erupting and sending a massive burst of electromagnetic energy, which some are calling a "solar tsunami," toward Earth. As NASA breathlessly described, "almost the entire Earth-facing side of the sun erupted in a tumult of activity. There was a C3-class solar flare, a solar tsunami, multiple filaments of magnetism lifting off the stellar surface, large-scale shaking of the solar corona, radio bursts, a coronal mass ejection and more." Fear not—it doesn't seem as if this geomagnetic event is going to vaporize satellites or melt antennas or even disrupt any communications at all.

Click here for an updated version of the image at left, which depicts where the Aurora is currently showing. The redder, the better (and there should be a whole lot more red nearer those times I just mentioned).

SDO's Twitter and Facebook page are linking to nice Aurora photos from around the globe, and keeping up with the cool event, and there's an amazing video (unfortunately not embeddable) of the massive eruption itself.

More on the solar tsunami from TIME,  the Telegraph, and FoxNews, who explain in their article that the sun spot activity has been low—aka, a "solar minimum"— and "particularly weak and long- lasting" over the past number of extraordinarily hot years, which essentially debunks one of the most common climate denying talking points spewed forth by so many of their commentators.

Photo: NASA/Solar Dynamics Observatory

Ben Jervey More Info

Ben is a writer and editor covering climate change, energy, and environment, and is currently the Climate and Energy Media Fellow at Vermont Law School. He was the original Environment Editor at GOOD Magazine and his work has appeared regularly in National Geographic News, Grist, DeSmogBlog, and OnEarth. He recently worked with the non-profit Focus the Nation to publish an Energy 101 primer. When living in New York City, he wrote a book, The Big Green Apple, on how to live a lower impact life in the city. A bicycle enthusiast, Ben has ridden across the United States and through much of Europe.
Some recent articles by Ben Jervey:
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"Solar Tsunami" Pummels Earth, Leaving a Trail of Pretty Pictures