Planet Earth Podcast

Planet Earth episode

Thu, 5th May 2011

Science from a plane, and forecasting space storms

Dornier Do 228-200 twin-turboprop aircraft (c) Oliver Grzimek

This week in the Planet Earth Podcast, how a specially-designed twin turboprop research plane is helping scientists in a huge range of subjects from archaeology to ecology, and why a violent space storm could spell trouble for communications systems across the world.  If you want to know how polar ice cover is changing, how much tree cover there is in the Amazon, or how fast a Greenland glacier is flowing, your best bet is get your hands on the latest satellite data. But what do you do if you can't measure any of these things from space, or if you want more detail than a satellite can provide?  Sue Nelson goes to Gloucestershire Airport to fly on the Natural Environment Research Council's Dornier twin turboprop, a specially kitted-out research plane.  Also, what would happen if there was a massive solar storm like the famous Carrington Event in 1859? The answer isn't good news, which is why satellite manufacturers, insurers and space weather scientists recently met at a conference in Rome to discuss how to cope with massive solar storms.

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