Space Weather in Korea

We got contacted by Baruch Gottlieb from atelier kim.gottlieb who asked us to create a piece for a huge screen in South Korea. We needed to ask a couple of times the size of the LED screen but yes, it was 185 meters wide and 15 meters tall, with visibility to over 10 kilometers.

As usually, we wanted to create something inspired by nature but still connected to the latest technology and useful for the local people. We wanted it also to be something very Finnish and came up with the idea of visualising the geomagnetic storms that cause solar wind, a.k.a. Aurora Borealis. We trusted that Koreans will fancy this natural phenomenon too.

The concept was really simple. Geomagnetic storms happen all the time and they can be forecasted as other weather phenomena. Geomagnetic storms are harmful for a wide range of electronic devices and navigation & communication systems. What could be a better place to have this kind of indicator than South Korea, full of gadgets and electronics.

This was a prototype visualisation and it was generated based on collected history of space weather data but it could also be generated real-time. The magnetic storms here at Earth are directly related to the magnetic field fluctuations of the Sun. These fluctuations can be seen as sunspots where the magnetic field cuts the surface of the Sun. So, whenever there are large amount of sunspots the Aurora Borealis phenomenon is strong.

We used the records of monthly sunspot amount from year 1750 to present. The data is available here in different formats. Our Aurora Borealis visualisation lasts 15 minutes and shows the sunspot activity by growing stronger with many sunspots and disappearing with little or no sunspots. We also wanted to highlight the minima and maxima years by displaying them on the screen so people watching could connect the activity to a certain time in history. You can easily see the approximately 11 years long solar cycle repeating in the visualisation.