NEW YORK: A study has claimed that the sun’s attractive field may be responsible for rising the figure of lightning strikes on Earth. Research into the UK’s climate scheme found that lightning strikes in the UK increased by up to 50 percent when our planet’s magnetic field was bent by the sun. And the findings could be used to make reliable forecasts of electrical storms in the future.
As it rotates, the sun temporarily ‘bends’ the Earth’s magnetic field allowing a shower of energetic particles to enter the upper atmosphere. Normally, the Earth’s magnetic field acts as a force-field stopping it from being bombarded by particles from space, known as galactic cosmic rays. These have previously been found to prompt a chain-reaction of events in thunderclouds that trigger lightning bolts. But, research by the University of Reading found over a five-year period the UK experienced around 50 percent more lightning strikes when the Earth’s magnetic field was skewed by the sun’s own magnetic field. Dr Matt Owens said, “We’ve discovered that the sun’s powerful magnetic field is having a big influence on UK lightning rates. The sun’s magnetic field is like a bar magnet, so as the sun rotates its magnetic field alternately points toward and away from the Earth, pulling the Earth’s own magnetic field one way and then another.”