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Where are Solar storm-induced whale strandings more likely to occur?

  • Klaus Heinrich Vanselow (a1)

Abstract

Whale strandings occur in many places worldwide and numerous possible explanations for this phenomenon have been proposed, including the effects of astronomical events such as Solar eruptions on the Earth's magnetic field. Whales use the geomagnetic field for navigation, and its distortion can therefore result in whale strandings in certain regions. However, Solar storms do not have the same impact on the geomagnetic field across the whole of the Earth's surface, and positions nearer to the equator are less exposed to this phenomenon. It is therefore plausible that Solar storms can explain whale strandings at high latitude at least, but not necessarily worldwide. This review considers strandings in relation to the geographical and geomagnetic properties of locations at higher latitudes and to changes in the magnetic field over recent centuries. It also focuses on a Solar storm in December 2015. These considerations suggest that navigation errors due to Solar storms are more likely to occur at higher latitudes, particularly in sea areas where the animals might subsequently swim into a geographic trap and become stranded. For sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus), the southern Norwegian Sea in conjunction with the shallow North Sea represents such an area.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: Klaus Heinrich Vanselow, E-mail: vanselow@ftz-west.uni-kiel.de

References

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Where are Solar storm-induced whale strandings more likely to occur?

  • Klaus Heinrich Vanselow (a1)

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