A new study reveals that recently-discovered “space hurricanes” can interrupt radio waves and disrupt satellite communications and navigation systems.
While so-called “space hurricanes” have a 3D funnel shape like typical cyclones, they rain down electrons, not moisture. They occur near the North Pole and can spin for hours, the study explains.
“Like other auroras, they have interrupted radio waves passing through the upper atmosphere, affecting satellite communication and navigation systems, study co-authors Qing-He Zhang and Sheng Lu told The Washington Post:
“They also cause the upper atmosphere to heat up, which could affect the orbits of satellites and space debris. But the hurricanes do not pose an exceptional risk to spacecraft or astronauts’ health.”
Early in 2021, a study reported the discovery of spaces hurricanes, documenting how one had taken place in 2014:
“In Earth’s low atmosphere, hurricanes are destructive due to their great size, strong spiral winds with shears, and intense rain/precipitation. However, disturbances resembling hurricanes have not been detected in Earth’s upper atmosphere. Here, we report a long-lasting space hurricane in the polar ionosphere and magnetosphere during low solar and otherwise low geomagnetic activity.”
“On 20th August 2014, a relatively stable northward IMF condition (IMF Bz > 0 for more than 8 h) occurred with a large duskward component (IMF By ~13 nT), and roughly stable interplanetary conditions with low solar wind speed and density.”
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