Geomagnetic variations during the upcoming solar maximum: Causes and regional consequences

The next solar maximum is expected to occur during 2013/2014. This will lead to an increased amount of sun spots and solar eruptions. If solar storms hit the Earth, the protecting Earth's magnetic field is compacted and magnetic storms evolve and can be observed from the surface. Among the consequences of these magnetic storms are northern lights, breakdown of communications and failure of navigation systems. Strong magnetic storms can even damage power line networks and lead to extensive electrical power outage.

Beside direct observations of the sun and its radiation field, geomagnetic data is essential to characterize the temporal and spatial "geo-effectivity" of solar storms. In close collaboration with schools as well as national and international scientific partners, a regional network of magnetic measurement systems will be established within the framework of this proposal. This magnetic network allows us to analyze the spatial properties of magnetic storm onsets and substorms under closely controlled measurement conditions. Together with data from our international partner it is possible to describe the longitudinal and latitudinal dependency of such storm events.


It is then possible to investigate for the first time the possible regional consequences in Austria. Due to its actuality and the broad scientific content, this project is very well suited to introduce contemporary science at a school level. Setup of stations, maintenance, data analysis and visualization address all basic disciplines of natural science: math, information technology, natural science and technical aspects. Additional geological field work, with the aim to investigate paleomagnetic field variations, complements the project and will lead to a better understanding of the geological time scale within the physical processes of our planet.

The Project is currently in the initial phase.
Results will be available soon. Project updates can be found at Sparkling Geomagnetic Field (facebook).

Start October 2012
End September 2014

Project supervisor
Dr. Roman Leonhardt, Head of the Conrad Observatory (ZAMG)

Project staff
Rachel Bailey, MSc (ZAMG)

Project partners
Scientific Co-operation Partners
Technical University of Denmark, National Space Institute, DTU Space
Montanuniversität Leoben, Paläomagnetiklabor Gams

Partners from Economy and Society

Universalmuseum Joanneum, Centre of Natural History

Participating Schools
Akademisches Gymnasium Graz, ST
BG Tamsweg, S
BG/BRG Sillgasse, Innsbruck, T

Bundesministerium für Wissenschaft und Forschung
Sparkling Science - ein Programm des Bundesministeriums für Wissenschaft und Forschung

This is an ongoing project.