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Our Glaciers: Then and Now activity kit helps you see the changes taking place in glaciers around the world. See all our activity kits and classroom activities.
Space weather storms can cause trouble on Earth. Strong storms can mess up radio signals, shut down electrical systems, and expose people to radiation.
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Image courtesy L. J. Lanzerotti, Bell Laboratories, Lucent Technologies, Inc.

How does Space Weather affect Life on Earth?

Earth's magnetic field is a shield that keeps most of space weather's effects where they belong; safely out in space! But space weather does effect life on Earth.

Outside of the Earth's magnetic field, radiation from the Sun can hurt satellites. We use these satellites for some radio stations, cell phones and TV stations. We also use those satellites for Earth weather reporting and to provide the Global Positioning System (your parents' car may use this system to help give directions). This same radiation could be a hazard to astronauts too.

Inside the Earth's magnetic field, space weather has its effects too. Space weather storms can change magnetic signals so that compasses don't work well and even homing pigeons get confused. Space weather storms can also destroy electrical power grids causing the loss of electricity to many people. This size storm doesn't happen very often, but it's important to know when a storm does happen so that we can keep people and things safe.

Last modified February 26, 2009 by Randy Russell.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA