Solar Flares and Surveying Accuracy

The Ordnance Survey Blog explains why “space weather” — such as the coronal mass ejection the Sun let loose this weekis bad news for mapmaking: solar flares disrupt navigation satellite accuracy.

During a space weather event, sat nav users may experience a loss of satellite signal or errors in position. During the last big solar storm in October 2003 position shifts of greater than 10cm horizontal and up to 26cm vertical were recorded in higher latitude northern Europe - not such a big deal for drivers, but that it makes map making a lot more difficult!

So don’t panic about your in-dash GPS — it’ll get you just as lost as it always has.

This is probably a good point to mention, since some people are wondering whether they can see the aurora borealis from their location, that I posted a link to maps of auroral activity last August.