Airlines Reroute Flights in Solar Storm

Concern for communications blackout

Jan 25, 2012
Outside Magazine

Concerns that a strong solar-radiation storm would disrupt communications prompted Delta Airlines and United Airlines on Tuesday to reroute flights over both the North and South Poles. The Federal Avaition Administration is closely monitoring what scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are calling the strongest geomagnetic storm in six years. The radiation is the result of a solar flare that hurled a chunk of the sun's atmosphere toward Earth on Sunday night, causing a strong magnetic wind to disrupt the Earth's magnetic field. Although none of the feared disruptions to power grids or satellites have been reported, scientists are predicting more intense solar weather events as the sun reaches peak activity in 2013. "To me this was a wake up call," said Doug Biesecker, physicist at the U.S. Space Weather Prediction Center. "A lot worse is in store for us. We hope that you guys are paying attention. I would say we passed with flying colors."

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