WAMU 88.5 : Morning Edition

Filed Under:

Solar Storm Could Knock Out Communications, GPS Today

Play associated audio
Satellite image of solar flares that erupted Tuesday.  
(AP Photo/NASA)
Satellite image of solar flares that erupted Tuesday.  

An impressive space weather event is hitting the earth today after a series of solar flares earlier in the week.

The sun erupted with a flood of energetic protons Tuesday evening and the effects of that continue to affect our planet, according to Dr. Terry Onsager, a space weather physicist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center.

According to Onsager, the impact of space weather impacts the  infrastructure that in turn affects us. For example, airlines are now re-routing their flights away from the polar routes.

"When one of these storms is in progress, that degrades their ability to use high frequency radio communication," Osager says. The emissions can also disrupt global positioning systems.

"The impacts to GPS are in the high accuracy applications -- construction industry, agriculture," he says. Such solar weather events help scientists continue to learn more about the connection between the sun and the earth, Osager adds.

"There are these very basic physics questions we don't know the answers to," he says, but all the while, "our infrastructure is evolving to be more vulnerable. High-accuracy applications of GPS. The electric power grid getting much more interconnected and heavily loaded. "

Effects of the storm are expected to affect the earth over the next day or so.

NPR

On Television, More Transgender Characters Come Into Focus

Now that it's more common to see gay characters on TV, is the medium turning to transgender people for fresh stories? NPR's Neda Ulaby looks at TV's crop of transgender and "gender fluid" characters.
NPR

Obama Gets A Taste Of Jiro's 'Dream' Sushi In Name Of Diplomacy

On the first leg of his Asian tour, the president stopped by the iconic sushi restaurant. David Gelb, who directed a documentary about the restaurant, says eating there is amazing and nerve-wracking.
NPR

Pennsylvania Congresswoman Goes All In For Obamacare

Does Rep. Allyson Schwartz's pro-Affordable Care Act television ad signal a new thinking among Democrats running in statewide races?
NPR

FCC To Propose Change To Net Neutrality Rules, Media Report

The FCC is expected to put out new Internet traffic rules that would let content providers negotiate for better service. NPR's Melissa Block talks with Wall Street Journal reporter Gautham Nagesh.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.