Cambridge Astronomical Association
Cambridge Young Astronomers


Speaker Meeting

Solar Storms - effect on the ground
Friday 19th June 2020
Start time : 20:00

Speaker : Mark Clilverd

The study of solar eruptive phenomena has progressed over the centuries from scholarly recordings of astronomical events, such as sunspots, to advanced modelling of how solar activity may drive geophysical planetary responses, e.g., geomagnetic disturbances. However, there is still a great deal of uncertainty around the potential economic impacts of extreme space weather on modern society. Geomagnetic storms are potentially hazardous to the activities and technological infrastructure of modern civilization. The largest storms are triggered when coronal mass ejections from the Sun impact the Earth’s magnetic field. The reality of this hazard was dramatically demonstrated during the great magnetic storm of March 1989, when geomagnetically induced currents, driven by the time-varying geomagnetic field with the Earth’s surface layers, caused the collapse of the Hydro-Québec electrical power grid in Canada. Geomagnetically induced currents in ground systems are one of the better recognised hazards that can result from large geomagnetic storms, appearing in many national risk registers as a consequence of damage to power network transformers at high, mid and even comparatively low geomagnetic latitudes.

Dr Mark Clilverd is a Senior Scientist at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and has been since 1990. Dr Clilverd’s work has earned him several prestigious accolades: in 1994 he was awarded Outstanding Young Scientist at BAS and, in 1998, the Polar Medal for services to Antarctic Science. Throughout his career, Dr Clilverd has quietly amassed a world-­‐class reputation in his field. This was not only achieved as a result of authoring over 170 academic papers, but also because of his excellent record of public engagement and outstanding scientific talks on a broad range of space and upper atmospheric topics. His modest, engaging style enables him to successfully deliver talks to audiences containing both professional scientists and amateur enthusiasts. Dr Clilverd’s specialist subject can be described as ‘Energetic particle precipitation and its effects on the upper atmosphere and climate’.

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