Solar and Geomagnetic Activity and their Effect on Human Physiology

  • Oct 22, 2020

by James Odell, OMD, ND, L.Ac.-He’s holistic

Solar and Geomagnetic Activity (S-GMA) is a disruption of the geomagnetic field induced by changes in electrical currents in the magnetosphere and ionosphere. It is the main cause of such changes in the flow of solar flares, coronal mass ejections, and high-speed wind streams that interact with the earth’s geomagnetic field and add energy to the magnetosphere-ionosphere current system. Geomagnetic storms, substorms, and pulsations are the most noteworthy manifestations of geomagnetic activity. Numerous studies have now identified significant physical, biological, and health effects associated with changes in S-GMA. Significant correlations between hospital admissions and health registries and S-GMA have been observed for a long time. Now, there is a large body of research that correlates S-GMA with biological effects and human health effects.

The ionosphere is a layer of plasma, a term that describes highly ionized gases threaded by magnetic fields, which surround the Earth. The charged particles in the plasma can spiral around the magnetic field lines and travel along with it, creating auroras as high-energy particles flow along the field lines to the Earth’s magnetic poles. This “magnetohydrodynamic process” was described by Nobel Prize Laureate Hannes Olof Gösta Alfvén to explain how low-frequency waves that propagate along magnetic field lines are created.1

Aurora Borealis – Stockholm, Sweden: Photo by Anders Jildén (@AndersJilden)

Standing waves in the magnetosphere involve several magnetic field lines, with lengths several times the Earth’s radius, which is excited and oscillate at their resonant frequency, similar to a plucked guitar string. Longer field lines have a lower resonant frequency, whereas shorter field lines resonate at a higher frequency. Field lines with more or heavier particles spiraling around them tend to have lower frequencies. Changes in solar wind velocity or the polarity and orientation of the interplanetary magnetic field may have dramatic effects on the waves, as measured on the Earth’s surface.2

Many studies have been published describing a broad range of physiological, psychological, and behavioral changes associated with changes or disturbances in geomagnetic activity and solar activity. Studies have shown that increased amplitudes of field line resonances can particularly affect the cardiovascular system, most likely because their frequencies are in the same range as the primary rhythms found in the cardiovascular and autonomic nervous systems.

In some countries, magnetic field disturbances are included in public weather forecast reports. (Space weather news may be accessed at On a larger societal scale, increased rates of violence, crime, social unrest, revolutions, and frequency of terrorist attacks have been linked to the solar cycle and the resulting disturbances in the geomagnetic field.3, 4, 5

Increased solar activity has not only been associated with social unrest, it is also associated with the periods of the greatest human flourishing with clear spurts of innovation and creativity in architecture, arts, sciences, and positive social change, as well as with variable human performance in the financial markets.6, 7, 8

Over the last few years, various researchers have reached the conclusion that cosmic ray variations and geomagnetic disturbances impact human physiology. These studies build on observations made by the famed astronomer Alexander Chizhevsky during World War I.9 Chizhevsky observed that social conflict and wars intensify during peak solar flare periods and that major human events and behaviors closely follow the cycle of the sun.10 This eventually led to the hypothesis that some unknown solar forces affect human health and behavior, providing a provocative link between events occurring in our solar system and life on Earth.

Geomagnetic storms, i.e. extreme fluctuations of the globally recorded geomagnetic field, are known to have the greatest biological influence of all forms of geomagnetic activity. During a geomagnetic storm, the F2 layer of the ionosphere becomes unstable, fragments, and may even vanish. Auroras become visible in the northern and southern pole regions of the planet. The F2 layer of the ionosphere exists from approximately 220 to 800 km (140 to 500 miles) above the surface of the Earth. F2 is the principal reflecting layer for telecommunications during both day and night. Since the ionosphere is heated and distorted during a geomagnetic storm (commonly referred to as a solar storm) long-range radio communication that relies on sub-ionosphere reflection can be difficult or impossible, and global-positioning system (GPS) communications can be compromised. Not only can solar storms cause a temporary disturbance of the Earth’s magnetosphere impacting telecommunications, but human and animal bioregulatory systems may also be adversely affected.

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