September 18, 2013 - Be prepared for some major power failure, degradation of oil pipelines and disrupted telecommunication in next three to four months due to the reversing of the polarity of Sun's magnetic field, said Dr BN Dwivedi, professor, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Banaras Hindu University (BHU).
Dr Dwivedi is also an associate scientist of Solar Ultraviolet Measurements of Emitted Radiation (SUMER). He is the only scientist from non-European countries on the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft (a major ESA/NASA project of international cooperation). According to Dwivedi, when the Sun's polarity will change, which has been predicted to occur in next three to four months, the entire solar system will experience its effect. However, the magnitude of these changes might not be very high as the strength of this change is very weak.
It may be noted here that Sun's magnetic field changes its polarity after every 11 years after which the north of the Sun's magnetic field becomes south and the south becomes north. The Sun completes its magnetic cycle in 22 years.
A member of the science team of 'Enhanced Visible Emission Line Coronagraph (VELC)' and 'Solar Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (SUIT)' for the ISRO's ADITYA-L1 MISSION, scheduled to be launched by ISRO in 2018, Dr Dwivedi said, "Today's technology depends on space weather. Solar activity, such as coronal mass ejection during solar maximum will create more active space weather around Earth and other planets. This change in the magnetic field can also cause damage to the power grids and disrupt telecommunication to a great extent. There are chances that mobile phones, internet connection and other satellite communication, which are not enveloped by the thick atmosphere of Earth, might get hampered during this period."
He further added, "It is important to know that Sun has been changing its polarity since the conception of the solar system, however, it has not affected the general life on Earth as till now the life and human activities were confined within the limits of the Earth. Now we have gone beyond the Earth and it has made us vulnerable to the affects of the magnetic field reversal of the Sun. Our day to day communication is based on the satellites in space which will be affected by this reversal. The space communication, astronauts, satellite electronics will also get affected apart from space projects for other planets of the solar system."
According to Dwivedi, the domain of the Sun's magnetic influence stretches billions of kilometres in the solar system.
"Every body present in the universe has a magnetic field. The Sun's magnetic field dominates the heliosphere, the bubble of ionized gas (plasma) formed by the solar wind. It envelops the entire solar system out to more than 100-times the Sun-Earth distance. The pole shift might also ionize the Earth's upper atmosphere by allowing fewer cosmic rays to hit the Earth," he said