Friday, June 8, 2018

Doors Open: Visiting a Geomagnetic Lab

The most interesting place Terry and I visited during this year's Ottawa Doors Open weekend was a 50-year-old geomagnetic lab run by National Resources Canada.

Located near Ottawa, the lab focuses on two geographical phenomena that I find extremely fascinating: earthquakes and space weather.

The lab is one of many throughout Canada that measures earthquake activity.

This map that shows recent earthquakes in eastern Canada, where we live...

...and the west coast.

Terry is pointing to Kelowna, in the BC interior, a city I lived in during my teenage years. My parents continued to reside there for more than 40 years. I'm pleasantly surprised to see that few earthquakes have occurred in the Okanogan Valley.

I notice also that Red Deer, Alberta, where we lived prior to moving to Kelowna, has not had much earthquake activity. Edmonton has had a bit more...
Whereas earthquakes are measured after they happen, space weather is monitored while it is occurring, in order to avoid electrical problems here on earth.

Little did I know that the Aurora Borealis or northern lights are potentially dangerous electrical charges in the sky that are "the result of collisions between gaseous particles in the Earth's atmosphere with charged particles released from the sun's atmosphere".

Electrical charges from the northern lights can knock out power transformers and disrupt satellite communication, so they need to be monitored carefully.

Sometimes power grids need to be turned off temporarily so that they won't be knocked out by space weather. This avoids costly - and sometimes lengthy - repairs.

The work done at this lab is so fascinating! If I were still in school, space weather is definitely something I would be interested in studying!

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