Strange Sun Effects: Atmospheric Radiation Highest Ever Recorded and Cosmic Rays at 5 Year High


Something ironic is happening in Earth’s atmosphere.

Solar activity is very low. However atmospheric radiation is heading in the opposite direction and cosmic rays percolating through the air around us are at a 5 year high.

solar and cosmic ray radiations increase
New data collected by SapceWeather’s weather balloons show a significant increase in both atmospheric and cosmic ray radiation. Picture via SpaceWeather

We are currently entering Solar Cycle 25. Similar to Cycle 24, solar activity is very low. However, new cosmic ray balloons data show an all-high atmospheric radiation and a 5-year-high cosmic ray radiation. Now learn why it is kind of scary in the article below.

As shown in the map above, radiation levels have been increasing almost non-stop since the monitoring program began, with recent flights registering the highest levels of all.

Why Are Atmospheric and Cosmic Ray Radiations Increasing on Earth?

During Solar Minimum, which is currently underway, the sun’s magnetic field weakens.

This allows energetic particles from deep space to penetrate the Solar System. As solar activity goes down, cosmic rays go up…


How To Measure Cosmic Ray Radiation?

When cosmic rays hit the top of Earth’s atmosphere, they produce a spray of secondary particles and photons that rain down on Earth’s surface.

This is what the balloons measure.

Then, scientists ‘use X-ray and gamma-ray detectors sensitive to energies in the range 10 keV to 20 MeV. This type of radiation, which you can also find in medical X-ray machines and airport security scanners, has increased more than 20% in the stratosphere.

atmospheric radiation is at its highest ever, and cosmic rays are also at a 5 year high
Atmospheric radiation is at its highest ever, and cosmic rays are also at a 5 year high. Picture via SpaceWeather

But another way to measure cosmic rays ‘is using a neutron monitor. Neutrons are an important type of secondary cosmic ray. They reach Earth’s surface with relative ease and are biologically effective.

New neutron data from Sodankyla Geophysical Observatory in Finland also show that cosmic ray radiation has been increasing for the past 5 years and, even more, are within percentage points of the Space Age record, set in late 2009-early 2010 near the end of a very deep Solar Minimum.

Do you think we will set a new record in the months to come? Hopefully not for people flying thousands of miles per year.

What Are Dangers of Cosmic Rays?

Cosmic rays penetrate commercial jets, delivering whole-body dosages equal to one or more dental X-rays even on regular flights across the USA.

Cosmic rays pose an even greater hazard to astronauts, of course.

Cosmic rays can also alter the electro-chemistry of Earth’s upper atmosphere and are thought to play some role in sparking lightning.

Maybe the number of superbolts will also increase with time?

Most Intense Sunlight on Earth

Meanwhile, data from newly installed 5 automatic weather stations atop Mount Everest (elevation up to 27,600 feet / 8,412 meters) shows that the mountain experiences some of the most intense sunlight on the planet, some of the most intense illumination anywhere on Earth’s surface.

All weather measurements are uploaded in near-real time to the National Geographic Society’s Perpetual Planet website as well as on Twitter.

Those stations have also registered levels of solar radiation equal to or exceeding the solar constant – or, in other words, the amount of sunlight scientists expect to see at the outermost limits of Earth’s atmosphere.

Why Is Light So Intense at Higher Altitudes?

Like in a microwave, this unearthly luminescence is probably the result of sunlight getting ping-ponged around by snow and ice as it falls on Everest’s frozen spires.

Well let’s hope the third pole is not going to totally melt as we are now entering a very low solar activity cycle that will increase radiation. Continue reading Strange Sounds and also visit Steve Quayle. [SpaceWeather, Science Alert]

Follow us: Facebook and Twitter. By the way you can also support us on Paypal. Please and thank you!


Leave a reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.