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    Written by : LAM Hok-yin      December 2009

  1. The Sun has an activity cycle of about 11 years and it is more active during its peak. The adverse space weather caused by occasional intense flares leads to geomagnetic storms. These storms affect communications and navigations on Earth. According to the past, solar flares could fail satellites, interrupt communications, halt oil transfer, suspend polar route flights, hamper electric grids and lead to massive and prolonged blackout. The effects were felt especially in the high latitude regions (http://www.weather.gov.hk/education/edu05spacewx/ele_spwxeffecte.htm).

    Hong Kong is located in the lower latitude area and the direct effects of adverse space weather should be minimal. However, as the city has close ties with other parts of the world, effects may be felt locally if an intense activity occurs. Advance technologies such as GPS and mobile phone networks, which have not been tested under stress, may be the most vulnerable. As such, the effects of space weather to Hong Kong should not be neglected.

    The intensity of solar activity is quite random. There could be very intense activity even in a weak solar cycle. By the same token, there could be numerous activities but weak in nature. Space weather is very much unpredictable, thus it is very difficult to respond to it in a short period of time. Therefore, those industries which are sensitive to space weather effects should be prepared in advance accordingly.

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Last revision date: <27 Dec 2012>