Actually the radiation from solar flares does reach Earth and leaks thru the magnetosphere and atmosphere. The largest risk is for those people that
are flying, those that live at higher elevations or those that live near the poles.
Cosmic radiation as discussed above, upon interaction with our atmosphere produces cosmogenic radionuclides. It also is responsible for a whole body
Cosmic radiation is really divided into two types, primary and secondary. Primary cosmic radiation is made up of extremely high energy particles (up
to 1018 eV), and are mostly protons, with some larger particles. A large percentage of it comes from outside of our solar system and is found
throughout space. Some of the primary cosmic radiation is from our sun, produced during solar flares.
Little of the primary cosmic radiation penetrates to the Earth's surface, the vast majority of it interacts with the atmosphere. When it does
interact, it produces the secondary cosmic radiation, or what we actually see here on Earth. These reactions produce other lower energy radiations in
the form of photons, electrons, neutrons and muons that make it to the surface.
The atmosphere and the Earth's magnetic fields also act as shields against cosmic radiation, reducing the amount that reaches the Earth's surface.
With that in mind, it is easy to see that the annual dose you get from cosmic radiation depends on what altitude you are at. From cosmic radiation,
the average person in the U.S. will receive a dose of 27 mrem per year and this roughly doubles every 6,000 foot increase in elevation.
Typical Cosmic Radiation Dose rates:
4 µR/hr in the Northeastern US
20 µR/hr at 15,000 feet
300 µR/hr at 55,000 feet
There is only about a 10% decrease at sea level in cosmic radiation rates when going from pole to the equator, but at 55,000 feet the decrease is 75%.
This is on account of the effect of the earth's and the Sun's geomagnetic fields on the primary cosmic radiations.
Flying can add a few extra mrem to your annual dose, depending on how often you fly, how high the plane flies, and how long you are in the air.
Sun's Temper Blamed for Arctic Ozone Loss
A dramatic thinning of Earth's protective ozone layer above the Arctic last year was the result of intense upper-level winds and an extra dose of
space weather, scientists said Tuesday.
Ozone, which screens out some of the Sun's harmful ultraviolet radiation, declined by up to 60 percent in the stratosphere over high northern
latitudes in the spring of 2004. Officials issued a health warning earlier this year for residents of the far North.
Solar Storms Destroy Ozone, Study Reconfirms
When protons like these bombard the upper atmosphere, they break up molecules of gases like nitrogen and water vapor, and once freed, those atoms
react with ozone molecules and reduce the layer.
Some other oddities:
Solar flares may beach whales
Surges of solar activity may cause whales to run aground, possibly by disrupting their internal compass, German scientists suggest.
Chaotic solar cycles modulate the incidence
and severity of mental illness
This paper hypothesizes that the intensity of ultraviolet radiation (UVR) from the Sun predisposes humans to polygenic mutation fostering major mental
illness (MMI) and other disorders of neurodevelopment. In addition, the variation in the intensity of this radiation acts to stress immune systems,
possibly mediated by cytokines, resulting in variable clinical expressions of mental illness and autoimmune disorders.
NASA Satellite Observes Mysterious Earth Energy
Scientists using observations from NASA's Reuven Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager (RHESSI) satellite detected flashes of gamma ray
energy in Earth's upper atmosphere in greater detail than ever before. RHESSI is part of NASA’s Sun-Earth Connection program. It was designed to
study X-rays and gamma rays from solar flares. However, RHESSI's detectors pick up gamma rays from a variety of sources.
Let's hope the magnetosphere doesn't collapse too much when the solar wind shockwaves hit.
See Earth's Magnetic Field Is Fading
Real-time Magnetosphere Simulation
P.S. Don't stay out in the sun too long or you might get a radiation burn.
[edit on 10-9-2005 by Regenmacher]