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TitleFrom Early Exploration to Space Weather Forecasts:Canada's Geomagnetic Odyssey
AuthorLam, H L
SourceSpace Weather vol. 9, S05004, 2011 p. 1-5,
Alt SeriesEarth Sciences Sector, Contribution Series 20100533
Mediapaper; on-line; digital
File formatpdf
Subjectsgeophysics; remote sensing; geomagnetism; geomagnetic fields; geomagnetic variations; magnetic field; magnetic storms
Illustrationsphotographs; location maps
ProgramTargeted Hazard Assessments in Northern Canada, Public Safety Geoscience
AbstractCanada is a region ideally suited for the study of space weather: The north magnetic pole is encompassed within its territory, and the auroral oval traverses its vast landmass from east to west. Magnetic field lines link the country directly to the outer magnetosphere. In light of this geographic suitability, it has been a Canadian tradition to install ground monitors to remotely sense the space above Canadian territory.
The beginning of this tradition dates back to 1840, when Edward Sabine, a key figure in the "magnetic crusade" to establish magnetic observatories throughout the British Empire in the nineteenth century, founded the first Canadian magnetic observatory on what is now the campus of the University of Toronto, 27 years before the birth of Canada. This observatory, which later became the Toronto Magnetic and Meteorological Observatory, marked the beginning of the Canadian heritage of installing magnetic stations and other ground instruments in the years to come. This extensive network of ground-based measurement devices, coupled with space-based measurements in more modern times, has enabled Canadian researchers to contribute significantly to studies related to space weather.
Canada is also vulnerable to the adverse effects of space weather for precisely the same reason it remains an ideal place in which to observe space weather: its geographic location. Therefore, Canada has a long history of space weather-induced issues, the most notable recent ones being the Quebec power blackout in March 1989 and the Anik E satellites' outage in January 1994.
Because of the increasing need to mitigate the potential impacts of space weather, the magnetic service at the Ottawa Magnetic Observatory, which descended directly from the Toronto Magnetic and Meteorological Observatory, has grown into a full-fledged space weather forecast center. Its mission is to provide forecasts and services to Canadian stakeholders affected by space weather.