Geomagnetic scientists on alert

16 January 2007

Aurora at Michelago Photo:Chris Soames 31/03/2001

Geophysicists from Geoscience Australia will be kept a little busier than usual monitoring changes to Earth's magnetic field over the coming few years as the sun begins its next 11 year cycle of sunspot activity.

The last "sunspot maximum" in 2000 was followed by a period of decreasing sunspot numbers, but scientists are now seeing evidence the number may be starting to rise again. If the normal pattern continues the activity should peak around 2011.

Geoscience Australia will record any increased activity in the Earth's magnetic field at its geomagnetic monitoring stations at Kakadu and Alice Springs in the Northern Territory, Learmonth and Gnangara in WA, Charters Towers in Queensland, in the ACT near Canberra and in Antarctica at Casey, Mawson and Macquarie Island.

More information on the expected effects of sunspots and associated solar flares can be found in the media release.

Topic contact: Last updated: October 4, 2013