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Britain Won’t Be Able To Experience Northern Lights By 2050, Study Says

First Posted: Feb 06, 2017 04:26 AM EST
Northern Lights
Britain may not be able to witness the Northern Lights by 2050.
(Photo : ivan castro/YouTube screenshot)

Britain may not be able to witness the spectacular Northern Lights after 30 years due to major shifts in solar activity, according to a new study. The overall size of the Sun's atmosphere will shrink by a third due to plummeting solar activity that will weaken its protective influence on planet Earth. Consequently, the aurora borealis or Northern Lights will become less common in areas located at a distance from the North and South Poles by the middle of the century. 

The study was conducted by a research team from the U.K.'s University of Reading, according to BBC. "The magnetic activity of the sun ebbs and flows in predictable cycles, but there is also evidence that it is due to plummet, possibly by the largest amount for 300 years," lead researcher Mathew Owens said. "If so, the Northern Lights phenomenon would become a natural show exclusive to the polar regions, due to a lack of solar wind forces that often make it visible at lower latitudes." 

The scientists have also said that coronal ejections and sunspots will occur less frequently as the Sun becomes less active. However, if a mass ejection does hit the planet, then it could be more destructive for electronic devices than such activity is now. The plummeting solar activity could also make the planet more vulnerable to solar blasts that destroy technology and cosmic radiation that causes cancer.

The researchers were able to predict the outcome of the plummeting solar activity in the future by studying sunspot records to reconstruct what happened the last time such an occurrence took place, more than 300 years ago. The scientists also used contemporary reports and updated models to conduct the study. According to a DNA report, the research team has predicted a rapid reduction in the size of the heliosphere that acts like the Earth's bubble by around the middle of the 21st century.

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